Chinese star Peng Shuai has been barred from playing in a pair of tournaments scheduled for next month. The decision was prompted by a growing dispute between the women’s tennis tour and the International Tennis Federation that centers on women players’ complaints that the ITF has failed to protect them during stadium protests against political demands by China’s president, Xi Jinping.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the world’s top-ranked women’s player, this week tweeted: “Just wanted to clarify that u can’t get political during the Riots/Protest in China by @ITF — Playing is not allowed. @PengShuai will not play in July 2019 Hong Kong & July 2020 Shandong.”
Official News China reported Wednesday that the ITF had informed the International Tennis Federation of its intention to suspend both events, citing unnamed ITF sources. While China plays a host of high-profile games in stadiums displaying images of Mr. Xi, players who include Chang Kai-chen, Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai have frequently spoken out against Mr. Xi’s policies and criticized his treatment of women during matches at stadium demonstrations.
Players said such protests have forced them to wrap their bodies in abayas, scarves and hats to prevent themselves from being hit by rocks, or have been met with threats and beatings from audience members, The Players Tribune reported in April.
Peng Shuai said, “If this continues, I will never play in China.”
The story was first published by The Players Tribune, a sports site founded by Grantland founder Bill Simmons, which sports journalist Danielle Tcholakian runs.
Click here to read the full story at The Players Tribune.
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