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…

‘Where is **?’: Fans in China Elude Censors to Talk About Peng Shuai

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Julien Chen was getting ready for bed when he learned that one of his favorite Chinese tennis players, Peng Shuai, had made #MeToo allegations against a powerful Chinese official. A friend told him to check Ms. Peng’s social media account. “There’s a ‘huge melon’ in the tennis circle,” the friend wrote, using the Chinese metaphor for a bombshell. Mr. Chen couldn’t find anything. He searched the word “tennis,” but Ms. Peng — one of China’s most famous athletes — appeared in barely any results. With stunning efficiency, China’s censors had…

WTA Suspends Tournaments in China Over Treatment of Peng Shuai

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The women’s professional tennis tour announced Wednesday that it was immediately suspending all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, in response to the disappearance from public life of the tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a top Communist Party leader of sexual assault. The move, which represents a groundbreaking shift in how major sports organizations deal with China’s increasingly authoritarian government, comes as the Women’s Tennis Association has failed to speak directly with Peng after she made the accusations in posts on her social media channels that were soon…

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…

Thomas Bach Is Criticized for His Handling of the Peng Shuai Case

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“What the I.O.C. established is that quiet and discreet diplomacy gets you better than clashing cymbals,” Pound said. “That’s not the way you deal with any country, certainly not with China.” It is unclear how Bach managed to engineer a call with Peng when the WTA Tour and others had been unsuccessful, though the presence on the call of an I.O.C. member from China, Li Lingwei, offered a tantalizing clue. “The I.O.C. has vaulted itself from silence about Beijing’s abysmal human rights record to active collaboration with Chinese authorities in…

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…

Peng Shuai’s Accusation Pierced the Privileged Citadel of Chinese Politics

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Before Zhang Gaoli was engulfed in accusations that he had sexually assaulted a tennis champion, he seemed to embody the qualities that the Chinese Communist Party prizes in officials: austere, disciplined, and impeccably loyal to the leader of the day. He had climbed steadily from running an oil refinery to a succession of leadership posts along China’s fast-growing coast, avoiding the scandals and controversy that felled other, flashily ambitious politicians. He became known, if for anything, for his monotone impersonality. On entering China’s top leadership, he invited people to search…

Do Sports Still Need China?

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Ultimately, the affair showed how even the most conscientious organizations could find their plans undermined by Chinese politics, how any business could unwillingly become a vessel for an international spat. “If you’re angering both sides, it means there is no middle ground, which I think was significant,” said Dreyer, the Beijing-based sports analyst. Like other observers, Dreyer suggested the WTA’s stance was potentially game-changing. But he noted, too, that it was possibly easier for the WTA to defy China than it had been for, say, the N.B.A., for two reasons.…

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…

Why Peng Shuai Frustrates China’s Propaganda Machine

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The Chinese government has become extremely effective in controlling what the country’s 1.4 billion people think and talk about. But influencing the rest of the world is a different matter, as Peng Shuai has aptly demonstrated. Chinese state media and its journalists have offered one piece of evidence after another to prove the star Chinese tennis player was safe and sound despite her public accusation of sexual assault against a powerful former vice premier. One Beijing-controlled outlet claimed it obtained an email she wrote in which she denied the accusations.…

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