Reuters reported on December 9th, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has become the second international sports organization to suspend all Tennis World Tour events held in China. Before, the International Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced the cancellation of all events in China (including Hong Kong).
An ITF source did not reveal why the ITF changed its decision : “No men’s or women’s ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments are scheduled to be played in China in 2022.”
After Peng Shuai posted on Weibo on November 2nd to report that Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the chinese Communist Party, had sexually assaulted her, she then disappeared without a trace. The international community is concerned that the authorities imprisoned Peng Shuai, whose life may be in danger.
The WTA released a statement on December 2nd stating that the WTA will suspend all competitions in China, including Hong Kong.
Currently, the international sports community is expressing concern about Peng Shuai’s safety and supporting the decision of the WTA, including American tennis legend Billie King.
This decision could cost WTA millions of euros in lost revenue. Compared to the WTA, The ITF does not have major professional tournaments in China. In the last full season in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, China hosted about 25 ITF women’s and 15 men’s events. The ITF offers approximately 500 female tournaments for across 65 countries offering prize money from $15,000 to $100,000.
According to CNBC, Former top-ranked tennis star Maria Sharapova commented in an interview regarding the WTA and King’s comments: “I’ve actually been incredibly impressed by how the WTA has stood up and taken a stance. Steve Simon doing the right thing has been wonderful”.
“I think of people before I think of business, I think of the human element and that’s why I’m in complete support of the tour,” said Sharapova.