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WTA Suspends Tournaments in China Over Treatment of Peng Shuai

  • December 02, 2021

On Twitter, the former champion and activist Billie Jean King said that the organization was “on the right side of history.” She added, “This is another reason why women’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports.”

Serena Williams has been vocal about the need for Peng to be able to speak freely, as have other major figures in tennis including Navratilova, Naomi Osaka and Patrick McEnroe, the ESPN commentator and former player.

For the International Olympic Committee, the timing could not be worse. The organization is coming off staging the postponed Summer Games in Tokyo, where roughly 80 percent of the country’s population was opposed to the event taking place, according to polling in the weeks before the opening ceremony.

Now it is taking its marquee winter event to China, a move that many critics are now comparing to one of the darkest chapters in the history of the modern Olympics — the staging of the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, an event that Adolf Hitler leveraged as propaganda for his fascist Nazi rule of Germany.

The question now is whether other sports organizations will follow the lead of women’s tennis, or whether they will resist giving up the potential riches of the Chinese market. The National Hockey League, for example, which plans to stop its season in February so its stars can participate in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament, has been largely silent on the matter.

Terrence Burns, an international sports consultant who worked with the Chinese on its bid for the 2008 Olympics, said China has shown that regardless of what sports leagues and organizations do, the government is not likely to change its ways to accommodate what it views as the standards of the West.

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