Speed Reads

'for the time being'

International Tennis Federation doesn't have plans to suspend tournaments in China amid Peng Shuai concerns

The Women's Tennis Association recently suspended tournaments in China in the wake of player Peng Shuai's disappearance, but the International Tennis Federation isn't planning to follow suit. 

David Haggerty, president of the tennis governing body, told BBC that the International Tennis Federation stands "in support of all women's rights" but doesn't have plans to suspend events in China amid ongoing concerns about Peng Shuai's safety. The Chinese tennis star last month made allegations of sexual assault against a former Chinese official, and she was subsequently not heard from for weeks. 

"The allegations need to be looked into, and we will continue to work behind the scenes and directly to bring this to resolution," Haggerty told BBC. "But you have to remember that the ITF is the governing body of the sport worldwide, and one of the things that we are responsible for is grassroots development. We don't want to punish a billion people, so we will continue to run our junior events in the country and our senior events that are there for the time being."

The decision comes after Women's Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon recently announced that the WTA would immediately suspend tournaments in China. A statement was released by Chinese state media last month that was attributed to Peng and walked back her sexual assault allegation, but Simon has said he doubts it was freely written by her. 

"In good conscience, I don't see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault," Simon said. 

The International Olympic Committee recently said it held a second  call with Peng, which "reconfirmed" that she "appeared to be safe and well." But Simon in announcing the WTA suspension said he has "serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation."