Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Chairman and CEO, Steve Simon feels the “new” video of China’s tennis player Peng Shuai is “insufficient” to conclude whether the athlete is safe and secure. Peng, 35, a doubles champion at Wimbledon and the French Open, accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault according to screenshots of a since-deleted Weibo post dated November 2. Notably, Peng has not been heard from since alleging against the Chinese politician.
However, Peng purportedly appeared in a ‘new’ video released by the state media. Steve Simon said it still remains unclear if the Chinese player is free and able to make her decision without any coercion.
“I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing. While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference,” said Steve Simon in a statement.
“This video alone is insufficient. As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads,” he added.
On Saturday, United Nations called for an investigation into Peng Shuai’s disappearance while the WTA is willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business in China for the tennis player.
Earlier this week, Chinese state media released an email, purportedly sent to Simon from Peng, walking back her allegations and claiming she is fine. The alleged email was released only on English-language platforms and domestic Chinese media have not reported on its contents, despite Peng being a household name in China.
WTA head had questioned its veracity, describing it as a “staged statement of some type,” noting he had yet to receive a follow-up reply, despite responding immediately.