China hits back at WTA as IOC says it has spoken again to Peng Shuai

China has attacked the Women’s Tennis Association’s boycott in response to the treatment of Peng Shuai, as two other major international tennis associations steered clear of the subject of future events in a market worth billions of dollars. Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a daily briefing that his government was “always firmly opposed to acts that politicise sports”. The WTA said on Wednesday it was suspending all tournaments in China in response to continued questions over Peng’s condition. Its chair, Steve Simon, said he did not see…

WTA still ‘deeply concerned’ over Peng Shuai’s ability to communicate freely

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said it remains “deeply concerned” about the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, weeks after she disappeared following her allegations against a high-ranking Chinese former politician. The WTA said in an email statement on Saturday that its chief executive, Steve Simon, had attempted to contact Peng through “various communication channels” including two emails. It said it was concerned about her welfare and ability to communicate freely and that her responses were “clearly” influenced by others. A spokesperson said Simon “remains deeply concerned that Peng is…

Peng Shuai: the tennis star at centre of China’s biggest #MeToo allegation

After Peng Shuai and Andrea Sestini Hlaváčková won the doubles final at the 2014 Beijing Open, they went to karaoke to celebrate. The fifth-seeded duo had just beaten India’s Sania Mirza and Zimbabwe’s Cara Black, who had never lost a match in the Asia-Pacific region. “She was at the beginning of her comeback and I was happy to be there to play with her,” Hlaváčková recalls, on the phone from Rome. Their victory called for a night out so they went to a big Beijing nightclub. “She was singing a…

China seeks to spin Peng Shuai’s #MeToo allegation into an ideological dispute

Despite endless speculation from international press in recent weeks, there has been barely a mention of tennis star Peng Shuai’s bombshell allegation against Zhang Gaoli, the country’s former vice-premier, in domestic news coverage. Outside the country, the event was initially referred to by the editor of the official nationalist tabloid Global Times, Hu Xijin, only as “the thing people talked about”. “For some years now, China has responded to negative global attention either by giving an unconvincing explanation, or by stoically pretending the criticism isn’t there,” Zhang Ming, a retired…

China condemns ‘malicious hyping’ over Peng Shuai

China’s foreign ministry has accused unnamed people of “malicious hyping” in the case of the tennis star Peng Shuai, in a hardline and unrepentant response to questions in the west over her wellbeing. The whereabouts and wellbeing of Peng, a former doubles world number one, has become a matter of international concern over the past three weeks, after she alleged in a message on the Chinese social media site Weibo that the country’s former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her. Peng ceased to be seen in public shortly after…

West weighs up costs of boycotting China’s Winter Olympics

Boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics in February may seem a simple, symbolic diplomatic gesture – when put alongside the allegations of labour camps in Xinjiang province and the apparent sexual exploitation of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai – but such is the contemporary economic power of China that the step will only be taken after much agonising. The threats and economic boycotts that Australia, Canada and more recently Lithuania have suffered at the hands of the Chinese for challenging Beijing’s authority in one way or another are not experiences…

Peng Shuai: WTA says Chinese tennis star’s call with IOC chief is not enough

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s video call with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not address or alleviate the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) concern about her wellbeing, the WTA said on Monday. The whereabouts of former doubles world number one Peng have been a matter of international concern for nearly three weeks after she alleged that a former senior Chinese government official sexually assaulted her. She appeared at a dinner with friends on Saturday and a children’s tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday, photos and videos published…

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai tells IOC she is ‘safe and well’

The Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said she was safe and well in a video call on Sunday, the International Olympic Committee has said, amid growing international demands for assurances that she is free and not under threat. In a statement, the IOC said that Peng had spoken to its president, Thomas Bach, for 30 minutes. “She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time,” the IOC’s statement said. “That is why she prefers…

‘Horrifying’: Djokovic voices concern for Peng Shuai as WTA threatens to pull out of China – video

The men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic voiced his concern for missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. Djokovic said he supported “100%” the WTA’s threat to pull events out of China.  Peng, a former doubles world No 1, has not been seen in public since she accused the former high-ranking official Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault on 2 November. A journalist from China’s state broadcaster has revealed a set of photos, which he said were posted on Peng’s WeChat social media account on Friday, but analysts debated the authenticity of…

Scepticism as Peng Shuai letter emerges claiming ‘everything is fine’

The head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said he is now even more concerned for the welfare of Peng Shuai after Chinese state media published a letter purportedly from the Chinese player. Peng, a former world doubles No 1, has not been heard from publicly since she alleged on social media that a former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her. The 2 November post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo was removed within half an hour and censors blocked numerous related terms including “tennis”, but the claims…

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