The WTA demanded on Sunday that the Chinese government investigate sexual assault allegations made by Peng Shuai against a former Chinese vice premier, as well as, an end to censorship of the former top-ranked doubles player.
Peng is one of the China’s famous athletes, claimed on her Weibo social media account on November 2 that Zhang Gaoli, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee- China’s highest decision-making body- forced her into a physical relationship and that they later had an on-off-consensual relationship.
Peng stated in the post, which was deleted about 30 minutes after it was published, that she had no evidence to back up her claims. The internet in China is heavily censored, and the private lives of top leaders are a particularly sensitive subject. Concerns have grown among the global tennis community as Peng has not been seen since the post.
In a statement, the WTA stated that it will seek a “full, fair, and transparent investigation into sexual assault allegations against former Chinese leader.”
Peng, who is 35 year old, a doubles champion at Wimbledon and the French Open, has been banned from the Chinese internet and social media sites after accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of rape on her Weibo account, which is equivalent to Twitter. The Me Too movement has reached the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party for the first time.
“The recent events in China involving a WTA player, Peng Shuai, are deeply concerning,” said WTA chairman Steve Simon in a statement. “Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored. Her allegation that a former Chinese leader engaged in sexual assault must be taken seriously.” he added.