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WTA suspends tournaments in China citing Shuai

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  • Shuai Peng
    Shuai Peng
    Chinese female tennis player (1986-)

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced Wednesday it will suspend all tournaments in China immediately.

The decision could cost the WTA hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcasting and sponsorship.

It comes after sexual assault allegations levied by top Chinese player Peng Shuai against a former top official, Zhang Gaoli, who was once a vice premier in Beijing.

Shuai's nearly three-week disappearance sparked global concern both for her whereabouts and the safety of other players in China.

She's since reappeared at various events according to photos and videos posted by state media, and said she was safe in a phone call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

But that hasn't allayed the concerns of the WTA, which has called for a "full and transparent investigation without censorship" into Shuai's allegations.

Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government have commented and the topic has been blocked on China's heavily censored internet.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the WTA's decision was applauded by many current and former tennis players, it could come at a heavy cost.

The WTA began aggressively expanding into the Chinese market just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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