Novak Djokovic says he 'supports fully' WTA's decision to suspend tournaments in China

WTA Tour chairman Steve Simon on Wednesday announced the 'immediate suspension' of all its tournaments in China, including Hong Kong over concerns about the safety of female player Peng Shuai, who accused a top Communist Party official of sexual assault.

Agence France-Presse December 02, 2021 10:30:48 IST
Novak Djokovic says he 'supports fully' WTA's decision to suspend tournaments in China

Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during the Davis Cup quarter-final singles meeting with Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik. AP

Madrid: World number one Novak Djokovic said he supports "fully" the Women's Tennis Association's (WTA) decision to suspend its tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of female player Peng Shuai, who accused a top Communist Party official of sexual assault.

"I support fully the WTA's stance because we don't have enough information about Peng Shuai and her well-being," he said on the sidelines of the David Cup in Madrid on Wednesday, adding her health was of the "utmost importance to the world of tennis".

"I think the position of the WTA is very bold and very courageous," the Serbian player said.

WTA Tour chairman Steve Simon on Wednesday announced the "immediate suspension" of all its tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.

Djokovic had already thrown his support behind the WTA's threat to cut lucrative business ties with China over her case last month.

The WTA had planned 11 events in China this year before Covid-19 forced them to be relocated or cancelled.

Resumption of competition there is now on hold.

"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," Simon said.

No WTA tournament was planned before the end of the year and the 2022 schedule has yet to be released.

Peng, a 35-year-old Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, was not seen for more than two weeks following her allegations that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, now in his 70s, forced her into sex during a years-long on-and-off relationship.

Peng's claims against Zhang were the first time China's #MeToo movement has touched the highest echelons of the ruling Communist Party.

Peng was photographed at a tennis event last month in Beijing and participated in a video call on 21 November with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics in February.

"While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation," Simon said.

Updated Date:

also read

Can someone explain in plain English? Shane Warne seeks answers on Novak Djokovic saga
First Cricket News

Can someone explain in plain English? Shane Warne seeks answers on Novak Djokovic saga

Warne on Tuesday said he would like answers to some basic questions like whether Djokovic attended public events despite a COVID-19 and who exactly gave him the medical exemption.

Australian Open 2022: Justice has spoken so Novak Djokovic should play, says Rafael Nadal
Sports

Australian Open 2022: Justice has spoken so Novak Djokovic should play, says Rafael Nadal

Regardless of whether or not I agree on some things with Djokovic, without any doubt, justice has spoken," Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Monday.

Glitches, delays and court drama: Another day of twists in Novak Djokovic saga
Sports

Glitches, delays and court drama: Another day of twists in Novak Djokovic saga

The day started with a website crash and ended with the stunning release of the world's number one tennis player into Australia after nearly five days of detention.