WTA to Return to China with Peng Shuai situation “unresolved”

Shuai Peng Western & Southern Open

With the situation regarding Peng Shuai still unresolved satisfactorily, the WTA looks set to return to China.

WTA announced return to Chinese events

The WTA announced that they are going to return to allow China to re-host events, including the WTA Finals. Since the boycott in late 2021, the WTA has not allowed any events to be hosted in the country. Concern over the wellbeing of Chinese player Peng Shuai was the basis of the ban. Peng Shuai a high ranking official of sexual assault, and has not been seen much in public since.

Although the situation regarding the whereabouts and safety of Peng Shuai is still unresolved the WTA have committed to returning events to the country. WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon told the Associated Press that although what they were looking for was never delivered, discussions with players and tournament representatives led to the change.

What the WTA wanted was a chance for someone from the WTA tour to meet with Peng Shuai, along with a full and transparent investigation into her allegations. Simon stated “The stance that we took at the time was appropriate. And we stand by that. But 16 months into this, we’re convinced that our requests will not be met. And to continue with the same strategy doesn’t make sense.”

Peng Shuai not forgotten

The WTA Chairman added “So we needed to look at a different approach. With this, our members believe it’s time to resume the mission in China, where we believe we can continue to make a positive difference, as we have for the last 20 years, while at the same time making sure that Peng is not forgotten. By returning, hopefully more progress can be made.”

Despite no public appearances by the Chinese tennis star, since the carefully planned appearances in February 2022, during the Beijing Olympics, the WTA seemingly received assurances she is safe and well. Simon stated that the WTA has “received assurances from people who are close to her, that we’ve been in contact with, that she is safe and living with her family in Beijing.”

Also important to the WTA was the safety and wellbeing of athletes and staff alike when playing in China. The WTA has been assured by the Chinese Tennis Association that there won’t be any “issues” if the tour returns. Simon believes that a great majority of players wanted to see a return to the region and were supportive of this change.

It is yet to be seen if players will boycott events in China, until the original “demands” are met. No player has publicly spoken on the announcement at the time of writing. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out. With concern from the public that this could seem like a backing down by the WTA. The situation regarding Peng Shuai is still unresolved. This was the main aim of the boycott. How this will be perceived in general will surely be seen in the very near future.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports