the women’s circuit returns to China, almost two years after the “Peng Shuai affair”

Since December 2021, the Women’s Tennis Players Association (WTA), the body that governs the women’s professional circuit, has given up organizing competitions in China. A decision taken in reaction to the Peng Shuai affair, named after this Chinese woman, winner of Wimbledon and Roland-Garros in doubles, who had disappeared several days after accusing a former senior leader of the Beijing regime of sexual assault.

Although ” the situation “ n / A “showed no signs of change” in this case, the WTA announced, Thursday, April 13, in a press release, that it was lifting “ the suspension of the organization of tournaments” in the country. These will resume in the month of “next september”.

As of today, the 2023 WTA calendar ends with the tournament in Bari, Italy, from September 4-10. The sequel has yet to be released.

“We will not fully achieve our goals”

“When, in 2021, Peng Shuai showed courage with his testimony, the WTA took a stand by suspending its tournaments in China due to its concern for his safety and for the safety of its players and staff”recalled the instance in its text.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The suspicious disappearance of Peng Shuai, one of the facets of the repression in China

After 16 months, “we have concluded that we will not fully achieve our goals and that it will be our players and our tournaments that will pay the price”she continues.

“We do not regret our decision to suspend, but the WTA and its members consider that it is time to resume our missions in China. »

She also assures that she “will continue to support Peng and work for the advancement of women in the world”.
“We have also received assurances regarding the safety of the players and the staff”adds the authority in its press release, affirming “hold all parties accountable for their commitment”.

If it admits to giving in to the financial pressure represented by the very lucrative Chinese tournaments, the WTA regrets not having been sufficiently followed in its action.
“We have received a lot of praise for our principled stance and we believe we have sent a strong message to the world. But praise alone is not enough to change things. »

The announcement of the resumption of tournaments in the country logically follows that of September 2022, when the body said that “in accordance with a long-term contract”the circuit was likely to return to China in 2023.

During the 2019 season, the last not to have been impacted by the Covid-19, ten tournaments were organized there, including the end-of-year Masters which, with 14 million dollars, had been better endowed financially than their male equivalents.

The World with AFP

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