WTA Gives Up on Boycott Over Player's Safety

China has not let the organization contact Peng Shuai
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2023 6:45 PM CDT
Rights Groups Object to Ending Tennis Boycott of China
Supporters of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai hold up T-shirts ahead of the women's final at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, in January 2022.   (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard, File)

A 16-month boycott to pressure China into proving that one of its players is unharmed has been futile, the Women's Tennis Association announced Thursday, so play there will resume. "We are convinced that at this point our requests will not be met," President Steve Simon told BBC Sport. "To continue with the same strategy doesn't make sense, and a different approach is needed." Tournaments in China have not been held since the organization first clashed with Chinese officials over the well-being of Peng Shuai, who had accused a former top government official of sexual assault in a social media post. Peng later denied that's what she meant, but she's remained nearly entirely out of public view. The decision was met with opposition, the Guardian reports.

The WTA said that while Chinese officials have offered assurances that Peng is safe, it has not been granted direct contact with her after asking for a meeting in the beginning. Even last month, Simon said the WTA wouldn't return to China until the government had conducted a "full, fair and transparent" investigation of the allegations and it could communicate directly with Peng. Peng, 37, hasn't been seen in public for more than a year, per Yahoo Sports, when she made limited appearances during the Olympics in Beijing. Dissenting views about ending the boycott while the situation remains unresolved came Thursday from human rights organizations.

Going back at this point could perpetuate "the systemic injustice faced by sexual violence survivors" in China, said Kai Ong, Amnesty International's China researcher. Human Rights Watch's senior China researcher said the amount of money involved and the track record of global businesses in China made the decision unsurprising. "The WTA deserves credit for its initial stance, which was an act of courage," said Yaqiu Wang, "but the decision to move ahead with the tournament will be a huge disappointment for the Chinese human rights community." China's first tournament will be held in September, Simon said. (Read more Peng Shuai stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.