Some people have wondered if any professional sports leagues would put principles above revenue, and Wednesday, we have an answer.
Yes, the Women’ Tennis Association has officially pulled all of its 2022 events out of China as a show of support for Peng Shuai and women’s rights in general.
How significant is this move? It could cost the WTA and players hundreds of millions of dollars.
Peng is a Grand Slam doubles champion. She had accused a former Chinese Communist government official of sexual assault, and she’s essentially disappeared from the public since then.
WTA CEO Steve Simon said this strong move was a possibility and give him credit for backing up his words with action. He said that 2022 events in China are not happening, and it could extend beyond 2022 if there is still concern about Shuai’s safety.
“We’re hopeful we get to the right place, but we are prepared if it continues as it is — which hasn’t been productive to date — that we will not be operating in the region. This is an organizational effort that is really addressing something that’s about what’s right and wrong.’’
The big question is, what happened to Peng? Since she dropped out of public view on November 2, following a social media post raising allegations about former vice premier hang Gaoli, Simon has called for China to provide an explanation.
In a typical year, China hosts about ten women’s tourneys. That includes the season0-ending WTA Finals, which are set to be played in China for the next ten years.
According to Simon, the tournaments could still be played in China if the government follows through with his requests. If not, look for the tourneys to be played in different countries.
Here’s more from the CEO.
“We haven’t canceled, as of yet, but we’re prepared to get to that point. And that’ll be a point of discussion at some point: Where do you get to cancellation? Is it 2022 only? Is it for the future? I mean, those are all questions that will come down the road.”