The WTA not satisfied with China’s Peng Shuai explanations
The WTA are still out to get answers regarding the safety and well-being of retired Chinese professional Peng Shuai.
WTA Tour officials have demanded private meetings with Peng Shuai before events can resume in China.
The top women’s tour has made it clear that they are willing to continue to avoid China so long as they are not satisfied with the official version of events from the People’s Republic.
“We have received confirmation that Peng is safe and comfortable, but we have not yet met with her personally,” the WTA said in a statement on Thursday.
“There has not been any change in the WTA position on a return to China and we have only confirmed our 2023 calendar through US Open.”
The WTA wants a transparent investigation into the Peng Shaui matter.
Peng has accused a high-ranking government official of sexually assaulting her and there are fears she is being censored within China.
She has not left the country since her first revelations, only appearing briefly on state-controlled media.
WTA Tour CEO Steve Simon said late last year that they are prepared to risk their relationship with China to show that their players come first.
“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times.
“Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added.
Simon has hinted that should China not play ball that the WTA would seek a longer term replacement for Chinese swing events including the season-ending Tour finals.
“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”
The ATP Tour also did not visit China in 2022, however it has been made clear that the men’s tour were only absent due to the COVID-zero policy that the country has pursued.
At this stage the men’s tour is happy that the Chinese government’s official version of events surrounding Peng Shaui’s disappearance.
The ATP Tour is highly likely to return to China in late 2023.
Authorities from the WTA Tour have provided no timeline for talks with China.
Simon left little doubt that getting to the bottom of the Peng affair will form a big part of the WTA’s decision to return to China or not in 2023.
A handful of supporters wore ‘Where is Peng Shuai’ t-shirts at Melbourne Park for the Australian Open.
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