Peng Shuai: China opposes ‘politicisation’ of sports

China’s comments came after the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) suspended tournaments in the country over concerns for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s safety
Peng Shuai of China reacting during her women's singles match against Coco Vandeweghe of the US at the Zhuhai Elite Trophy tennis tournament in Zhuhai, in south China's Guangdong province. (AFP/FILE)
Peng Shuai of China reacting during her women's singles match against Coco Vandeweghe of the US at the Zhuhai Elite Trophy tennis tournament in Zhuhai, in south China's Guangdong province. (AFP/FILE)
Published on Dec 02, 2021 05:21 PM IST
Copy Link
BySutirtho Patranobis

China said on Thursday that politics should be kept out of sports after the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) suspended tournaments in the country over concerns for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s safety.

The WTA, the global governing body for women’s professional tennis, on Wednesday announced the “immediate suspension of all tournaments in China”, including in Hong Kong, citing concerns about the well-being of Peng, a former doubles world number one, who accused a top former Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault a month ago.

The WTA also cited concerns over the safety of other players as a reason for suspending tournaments.

The Chinese foreign ministry did not directly respond to the WTA’s decision to suspend competitions, but said it was against politicisation of sport.

When asked about the matter at a regular briefing, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin gave a one line response, saying China “opposes the politicisation of sports”.

China has remained largely silent over the huge scandal, blocking discussions of the topic on China’s heavily-censored internet.

On November 23, the foreign ministry had said it hoped that “malicious hype” about tennis star Peng’s whereabouts and well-being would stop, and that her case would not be politicised.

Instead, the Chinese government has allowed state-controlled media to go on the offensive, describing the global concern for Peng’s well-being as politicising sport.

On Thursday, the editor of the tabloid, Global Times, accused the WTA of “coercing” Peng to “support the West’s attack” on China by suspending tournaments in the country until was assured of her well-being.

The tabloid also cited a statement from the Chinese Tennis Association saying that it would defend its rights, and warning that the WTA should bear the legal consequences.

In an editorial aimed at the WTA’s decision, the tabloid accused it of “bringing politics into women’s tennis” and of being a “lever of Western public opinion”.

“WTA suspended tournaments in China amid so-called concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai. The WTA is expanding its influence in a speculative way, bringing politics into women’s tennis deeply, setting a bad example for the entire sporting world,” the editorial posted on Twitter – which is banned in China – said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on Thursday that it had held a second video call with Peng, having held the first late last month.

“We share the same concern as many other people and organisations about the wellbeing and safety of Peng Shuai. This is why, just yesterday, an IOC team held another video call with her,” the IOC said.

The whereabouts of Peng, a former doubles world number one and one of China’s top tennis icons, have been a matter of international concern since November 2 when she posted a message on social media alleging that China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her.

Peng’s post was immediately deleted and her presence scrubbed from China’s strictly censored web.

In late November, Chinese state media released Peng’s photos and videos, following the release of an email purportedly written by her, to claim that the tennis player was safe but wanted to be left alone.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Spain's King Juan Carlos and his son Crown Prince Felipe (R) hug each other as they attend the signature ceremony of the act of abdication at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

    Spain's ex-king to make brief return to Spain from exile

    Spain's former king Juan Carlos will return to Spain this week after nearly two years in exile in the United Arab Emirates, the royal household said on Wednesday. Juan Carlos, who abdicated against a backdrop of scandals over his finances and love life, had communicated "his decision to go to Spain from May 19 to Monday, May 23", the Royal House said.

  • A soldier of the Kraken Ukrainian special forces unit observes the area at a destroyed bridge on the road near the village of Rus'ka Lozova, north of Kharkiv.

    Russia's defence spending jumps 40% as war drags in Ukraine

    Russia's defence spending was up nearly 40% in the first four months of the year, according to preliminary data released by the finance ministry on Wednesday, almost three months into Moscow's large-scale military campaign in Ukraine. Russia spent 1.7 trillion roubles ($26.4 billion) on defence between January and April, almost half the 3.5 trillion roubles, or 2.6% of GDP, budgeted for all of 2022.

  • Under the plea agreement, Lane will serve three years in a federal prison, the court spokesman said.

    George Floyd death case: Ex-police officer pleads guilty to manslaughter

    One of three former Minneapolis police officers facing trial for the death of George Floyd pleaded guilty on Wednesday to manslaughter charges. Thomas Lane was convicted in February of federal charges of violating the civil rights of the African-American man whose May 2020 murder sparked nationwide protests, Floyd. Lane, who is white, had been scheduled to go on trial next month on Minnesota state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at an event in Hawthorne, California.

    Tesla's Musk says he 'can no longer support' Democrats, 'will vote Republican'

    Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk said on Wednesday that while he voted for Democrats in the past, he will now vote for Republicans. "In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party. But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican," he tweeted. Tesla does not have unions at its U.S. factories.

  • File photo of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

    ‘A scam': Elon Musk fumes asTesla is cut from S&P 500 ESG Index

    An S&P Dow Jones Indices executive told Reuters on Wednesday it has removed electric carmaker Tesla Inc from the widely followed S&P 500 ESG Index because of issues including claims of racial discrimination and crashes linked to its autopilot vehicles, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded with harsh tweets including that "ESG is a scam".

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, May 19, 2022