ITF won’t ‘punish a billion people’ by suspending Chinese tennis events

The ITF has not followed the WTA’s decision to ban tennis events in China amid the Peng Shuai situation in the country..

The sport’s governing body has opted not to follow suit because it says it does "not want to punish a billion people".

David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation, explained the reasons for opposing a ban, but said he is still focused on investigating Peng's disappearance.

"As the governing body of tennis, we stand in support of all women's rights,” he said. "The allegations need to be looked into, and we will continue to work behind the scenes and directly to bring this to resolution.

"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.

He added: "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.

"We will continue to analyse the situation but we feel that growing grassroots and making tennis available is an important element.

"We will continue those efforts in conjunction with the Chinese Tennis Association."

The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended tournaments in China following the disappearance and lack of direct communication with Peng, who accused a the country's former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.

The 35-year-old was not seen for three weeks after going public with her allegation and a letter was released by Chinese state media on behalf of Peng stating she is ‘okay’.

A video was released of the star out having a meal with her team, but the WTA along with players and fans are not convinced and are keen to speak with her directly.

WTA chairman Steve Simon, who has tried to contact Peng on multiple occasions, has been widely praised for his approach to the situation.

The ATP however, which runs men’s tennis, was criticised for not following the WTA in suspending events in China.

According to a statement released last week, the ATP believes "having a global presence gives us the best chance of making an impact."

Peng is set to have a personal meeting with the International Olympic Committee in January, where hopefully more clarity on her disappearance and safety will be issued.

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