China responds to WTA’s boycott in response to Peng Shuai: ‘Always opposed to acts that politicise sports’

The remarks were removed from the official press statement shared by the ministry

Arpan Rai
Friday 03 December 2021 09:38
<p>Peng Shuai, Grand Slam doubles champion and three-time Olympian, has not been seen in public for a month  now </p>

Peng Shuai, Grand Slam doubles champion and three-time Olympian, has not been seen in public for a month now

China said that it is against politicisation of sports in response to a boycott announced by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) amid concerns over the well-being of tennis champion Peng Shuai.

Foreign ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Beijing is “always firmly opposed to acts that politicise sports” while addressing a daily briefing on Wednesday, reported The Guardian.

The remarks were removed from the official press statement shared by the ministry.

This comes shortly after the women’s tennis body announced its move to call off all tournaments in China over the “disappearance” of Peng, who is a Grand Slam doubles champion and three-time Olympian.

Chair of WTA Steve Simon said he did not see how he could ask athletes to compete in mainland China and Hong Kong when Peng is “not allowed to communicate freely” and is under pressure to contradict her allegations against country’s former vice premier Zhang Gaoli.

China came under heavy scrutiny by the international community last month after Peng Shuai levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Gaoli in a social media, following which the tennis star has not been seen in the public space.

The post was swiftly taken down by Chinese authorities.

This act of silencing Peng has resulted in calls for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics to be held in China in February next year by several human rights activists and global leaders, preparations for which are nearing an end.

China has tried to quell concerns raised by the international community by releasing photos and videos of Peng but has failed to convince people about her physical wellbeing.

The International Olympic Committee on Thursday said it carried out a second video call with Peng but did not share any video, photos or transcript from the conversation.

Claiming that she is fine, the IOC said "this was reconfirmed in yesterday’s call.”

“Our human and person-centered approach means that we continue to be concerned about her personal situation and will continue to support her," the IOC said in a statement.

The committee has assured of a meeting in person with her next month.

“We have offered her wide-ranging support, will stay in regular touch with her, and have already agreed on a personal meeting in January,” the statement added.

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