ITF has no plans to suspend Chinese events amidst Peng Shuai controversy
International Tennis Federation (ITF) President David Haggerty revealed they “don’t want to punish a billion people” so will not withdraw events from China like the WTA amidst the ongoing Peng Shuai situation.
Last week WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon announced that the WTA will withdraw all events from China due to their failure and refusal to cooperate with the WTA’s requests. This includes the prestigious WTA Finals.
This decision came as a result of China failing to provide clarity over Peng Shuai’s full freedom after the former French Open and Wimbledon doubles champion accused former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into a sexual relationship.
Whilst Chinese state media released an email purportedly from Peng herself, as well as images and videos of Peng engaging in various social activities, none of these measures satisfied the WTA’s calls for a “full, fair and transparent investigation.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) are the only organisation outside of China to have had direct video contact with Peng when they held a video interview with the Chinese star, where she revealed she was “safe and well.”
However, the IOC came under heavy criticism for their interview and general approach of “quiet diplomacy,” being warned of becoming a “Chinese propaganda tool.”
Contrarily, WTA head Simon has branded his email correspondence with Peng as “100% orchestrated,” as he expected it to be.
ITF President Haggerty told the BBC that Peng’s safety and freedom is of the utmost importance, but claims the ITF is also responsible for the grassroots development of tennis. He feels a withdrawal of all events from China, both junior and senior, will punish too many people.
“As the governing body of tennis, we stand in support of all women’s rights. The allegations need to be looked into, and we will continue to work behind the scenes and directly to bring this to resolution.
“But you have to remember that the ITF is the governing body of the sport worldwide, and one of the things that we are responsible for is grassroots development.
“We don’t want to punish a billion people, so we will continue to run our junior events in the country and our senior events that are there for the time being.
“We will continue to analyse the situation but we feel that growing grassroots and making tennis available is an important element.
“We will continue those efforts in conjunction with the Chinese Tennis Association.”
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