Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Chairman and CEO Steve Simon expressed concerns over the safety of other athletes if the tournaments will continue in China and Hong Kong next year.
According to reports, Simon announced the WTA's decision to suspend all upcoming tournaments in both countries following Peng Shuai's sexual harassment allegations.
Peng Shuai's video call appearance did not appease her supporters
Last month, the tennis superstar appeared in a video call two weeks after being reported missing to confirm that she's still alive and doing well. Peng also said that she was at home in Beijing before asking her supporters to give her some privacy.
However, Peng's video call appearance did not appease those worried about her. After all, Chinese officials reportedly have a history of silencing those that accuse them of sexual abuse.
Simon also said that it's unacceptable for Chinese officials not to investigate Peng's allegations against former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
"In good conscience, I don't see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault. Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022," Simon said via WTA Tennis.
Simon also said that the basis on which WTA is founded has to do with women's equality. But what Chinese officials are doing doesn't jive with the WTA's mission and vision. After all, influential people are suppressing women's voices and sweeping their allegations of sexual assault under the rug.
He also added that despite all the assurances that he received, he still has doubts that Shuai is free and safe, according to CBS Sports.
WTA Ceo Steve Simon continues to support Peng Shuai
Last month, the CEO of the WTA also showed his commitment to ensuring that all players are safe when they compete in different parts of the world.
Simon said that he was willing to lose millions of dollars worth of businesses in China if an investigation doesn't take place regarding Peng's allegations, according to CNN.
Several athletes applauded Simon's decision to pull out of China following the announcement.
International Tennis Hall of Fame Billie Jean King said that the WTA chose to be on the right side of history.
Martina Navratilova also called Simon brave and commended him for putting the athletes' welfare first before profit.
Peng Shuai, Zhang Gaoli had a relationship
Last month, Peng's text message to Gaoli that she posted on Weibo was released. The text was deleted from the Chinese platform seconds after Peng posted it.
In her text, Peng told Gaoli that she would tell the truth about their relationship. Peng also asked Gaoli why he forced her to go to his house to share an intimate moment.
Reports also revealed that Peng and Gaoli dated on and off for over a decade. But the actual extent of their relationship has not been confirmed by both parties.
Gaoli has not also released a statement since Peng accused him of sexual assault.