Tennis stars hailed the WTA on Thursday after its decision to suspend women's tournaments in China, in support of tennis player Peng Shuai who accused a former Chinese leader of sexual assault.
In response to the decision, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, on Thursday displayed his opposition to "
any politicization of sport
The WTA took this initiative because, according to its president Steve Simon, "
" about the freedom of movement of the player, former winner of Wimbledon and Roland Garros in doubles.
In a strong statement, he announced Wednesday evening "
the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong
This firm position has been hailed by many stars in the tennis world.
Billie Jean King, 12 Grand Slam singles tournaments to her name, said the WTA "
is on the right side of history
What a leader
”, for his part wrote on Twitter the French Alizée Cornet to the address of Steve Simon.
I fully support the position of the WTA because we do not have enough information
" on Peng Shuai, said for his part the world tennis N.1 Novak Djokovic.
Martina Navratilova, the second most successful player in women's tennis, hailed the WTA on Thursday for its "
" where "
we put principles before dollars
She also called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC): “
I can hardly hear you!
“, Launched the ex-champion, accusing the organization of being too discreet since the beginning of the case.
The withdrawal decided by the WTA could eventually cost the organization millions of euros, as China is one of its biggest markets.
The ex-world No. 1 Andy Roddick underlined the risk taken, according to him, by Steve Simon: “
Acting well is much easier when it costs nothing.
- Financial risk -
The Asian country has not, however, hosted any WTA tournaments recently due to the Covid-19 and is unlikely to have hosted any in the near future.
During the 2019 season, the last not to have been affected by the epidemic, ten tournaments were organized in China, including the end-of-year women's Masters which, with $ 14 million, had been better endowed financially than their male counterparts.
I hope that world leaders will continue to stand up for justice for Peng and all women, regardless of the financial consequences,
" said Steve Simon in his statement.
None of this is acceptable and never will be.
If the powerful can suppress women's voices and sweep accusations of sexual abuse under the rug, then the foundation upon which the WTA is built - equality for women - would be greatly shaken
The WTA's decision was not reported by Chinese media on Thursday, which had been silenced since the start of the affair.
The news is also the subject of intense censorship on social media.
The vast majority of Chinese are therefore unaware of the excitement surrounding Peng Shuai.
Some Chinese netizens familiar with the information, however, posted comments on the WTA's official Weibo account on Thursday.
Some displayed their "
" of the president of the WTA who, they believe, has "
While others accused the organization of being "
" and asked it to "
get out of China and as far as possible