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Women's tennis body suspends tourneys in China amid Peng Shuai issue

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Women's tennis body suspends tourneys in China amid Peng Shuai issue
This file photo taken on October 2, 2017 shows Peng Shuai of China serving during her women's singles match against Shelby Rogers of the US at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing.
GREG BAKER / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has halted all its tournaments in China and Hong Kong.

This in an attempt to put more pressure on Chinese officials to address the issue involving WTA player Peng Shuai.

Shuai alleged sexual assault against a top Chinese government official in early November before being removed from the internet shortly after.

Concerns were raised about her safety when the tennis player did not appear in the public eye for days after.

The WTA and its players were among the first to raise concern over Shuai's safety and demanded that she be surfaced.

While clips and emails show Shuai alive and well, the WTA continues to express concern over the tennister's conditions as the issue remains heavily censored in China.

WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon slammed the Chinese leadership for not addressing the issue "in a full, fair, and transparent manner".

"The leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way," Simon said in his statement.

"While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation. The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for full and transparent investigation — without censorship — into Peng Shuai's sexual assault accusation," he said.

Simon added that the pullout from China and Hong Kong comes with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors.

"In good conscience, I don't see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault," he said.

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