ITF Won’t Suspend Tennis Events In China
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced that it won’t stop hosting events in China, despite widespread concern for player Peng Shuai. The President of the ITF, David Haggerty, told reporters that they don’t want to punish a billion people, especially as they have no control over the situation.
Peng Shuai made headlines in recent weeks after she accused former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. Following her claims, she disappeared from public view, sparking concern on an almost global level.
Many female tennis players voiced their concerns, but new images of the tennis star emerged showing her looking healthy and happy, clearly intended to put rumours to rest. A video call with the ITC was also intended to quell panic. Not everyone believes the images are a true telling of the story however, and many are still concerned for the former doubles world number one champion’s well-being.
WTA Starts Suspension
Following Peng’s disappearance, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) suspended it’s tournaments in China. These tournaments were incredibly lucrative, so the news made shockwaves throughout the tennis world.
But the ITF isn’t convinced that suspending tournaments is the way to go. They have announced that the Davis Cup, Billie Jean King Cup and other lower level events will continue as normal, and they have no plans to follow the WTA’s lead.
ITF Won’t Play Punisher
David Haggerty has admitted that Peng’s allegations are serious, but that they need to be examined by the right channels and addressed by the correct legal bodies. He says that the ITF will continue to look for a resolution, but that their events will proceed as normal.
The ITF is the world’s governing body for tennis and Haggerty has said that they are responsible for the sport, not just at a professional tournament level, but at a grassroots one too. If they pull the plug on their tournaments they have to do so across the board, and this mean that not only the senior events would be cancelled, but the junior ones too. This would affect development and cause irreparable damage in the long run.
The ITF has however released a statement that says that they fully support women’ rights and that their primary concern is Peng’s well-being. But stopping the sport on such a global level wouldn’t serve any good, and would further politicise the game of tennis – something they are trying very hard to avoid doing.