The chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on Thursday told CNN during an interview that if missing tennis star Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations are not investigated and she is not physically accounted for, he is willing to pull the association's business out of China.
“When we have a young person who has the fortitude to step up and make these allegations, knowing full well what the results of that are going to be — for us to not support that and demand justice as we go through it ... you know, we have to start as a world making decisions that are based upon right and wrong, period,” WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in an appearance on the network.
“And we can't compromise that, and we're definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it. Because this is certainly — this is bigger than the business,” he added.
Earlier this week the WTA called for an investigation into allegations that Peng made against former vice president Zhang Gaoli. Peng accused Zhang of forcing her to have sex with him in 2018 after a tennis match despite her repeated refusals.
“I was so frightened that afternoon, never thinking that this thing could happen,” Peng said in a Weibo post, which has since been deleted.
Since she issued her post on Nov. 2, Peng’s whereabouts are unknown, CNN reported.
Tennis stars like Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams have been among the most vocal athletes to spotlight Peng’s disappearance and allegations.
“I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai” Williams tweeted on Thursday.
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
“Censorship is never ok at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and ok. I’m in shock of the current situation and I’m sending love and light her way. #whereispengshuai,” Osaka tweeted on Tuesday.
The news comes as the Biden administration is separately weighing a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as nations are under pressure to respond to China’s human rights abuses.
The Hill has reached out to the Embassy of the People's Republic to China in the U.S. for comment.