Women’s Tennis Association shows the world how to stand up to China

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As long as China uses state power to suppress the freedom and human rights of athletes, it does not qualify as a sports venue.

The safety and well-being of Peng Shuai, China’s top tennis player, has sparked concern since she posted a social media post accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to leave. have sex with him. Out of concern, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced on December 1 that it suspend all tournaments in China and Hong Kong.

We wholeheartedly support this courageous decision.

Even though the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach said he confirmed that nothing happened to Peng, which has not allayed concerns that she is under the watchful eye of Chinese authorities.

Steve Simon, chief executive of the WTA, issued a statement criticizing Xi Jinping’s government. This partly bed, “Unfortunately, the Chinese leadership has not tackled this very serious problem in a credible manner.”

In the world of sport, athletes are an irreplaceable asset. Holding major sporting events in countries that do not adhere to democratic values, including freedom of expression and physical freedom, puts athletes at risk.

The IOC’s response has been criticized as having “supported Chinese propaganda.” Perhaps that was to be expected from the IOC, as it is obvious that he thinks that his first priority is the organization of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

But this reduces the importance of the Olympics as a celebration of peace.

Beijing 2022 logo visible in front of the headquarters of the Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, November 10, 2021. REUTERS / Thomas Peter

Xi Jinping’s regime has not shown the slightest sense of shame over its suppression of human rights for Uyghurs in Xinjiang province or Hong Kong. However, the world should reassess whether China is fit to host the Olympics.

Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), expressed his support for the WTA’s response as “the right decision”. However, he said he was “steadfast” in his support for sending athletes to the Olympics.

The rights of members of Japanese sports teams are important. However, shouldn’t priority at this time be given to protecting the very foundations of the world of sport, which is under attack by the Chinese government? We wonder if Mr. Yamashita understands this.

According to US newspaper reports, the WTA was scheduled to host nine major tournaments in China in 2022. Its recent announcement shows that it is determined to take a heavy blow for its income in order to do the right thing.

In his statement, Simon wrote, “I hope leaders around the world continue to speak out for justice for Peng and all women, regardless of the financial ramifications.

These words should be seen as a message to more parties than just political leaders. As the leader of the Japanese sporting world, Yamashita also has a duty to resist the Chinese government’s efforts to smugly close the curtain on the Peng controversy.

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(Read it Sankei Shimbun editorial in Japanese on this link.)

Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun


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