The WTA have confirmed that they will not return to China in 2022 due to tennis star Peng Shuai not being seen in public since Beijing Winter Olympics.
In November 2021 Peng posted a message on social media which accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex. The post was subsequently deleted and Peng was not seen for three weeks with many raising concerns for her safety before he was seen in attendance at the Beijing Winter Olympics but many have accused China of detaining her and forcing her to attend for international media purposes.
WTA Tour Chief Steve Simon said “We remain dedicated to finding a resolution to this. We want to find a resolution that Peng can be comfortable with, the Chinese government can be comfortable with, and we can be comfortable with. We are not about walking away from China. We have suspended our operations there right now. We will continue to do that until we get to a resolution. We will stay resolute. We do hope to be back there in 2023 with the resolution that shows progress was made in the space. That’s a victory for the world if we can accomplish that.”
Following her disappearance Peng denied that she had accused anyone of sexual assault and said that she had deleted the post herself. However, the WTA still demanded a formal investigation into the matter and wanted to speak with Peng. Simon added “We have not had any recent communication with Peng and the world has not seen Peng since the Olympics either. I don’t think you will make change in this world by walking away from issues. You have to create change. It might not be everything we want. But we have to find a solution that finds that balance that allows us to go back and see progress in the area.”
Whilst the WTA has confirmed it will not return to China until the matter is resolved the ATP Tour will host four tournament in the country during this season with Simon saying “Their difference is that ... they don’t have a member that’s affected there. They will have to make their own decisions at this point of time. Would we love to have their support on what we are standing for there and the issues? Absolutely. But we are not trying to influence their decision in any way, it has to be theirs.”