Concern and Anger Build Over Missing Athlete’s Sexual Assault Allegations

There has under no circumstances been a circumstance like this in China: a popular athlete building this sort of major allegations in opposition to a person of the country’s key political figures. Although Simon gained an e-mail from Peng this week, Simon has forged doubt on its authenticity and insisted that the tour wants verifiable evidence that Peng is risk-free. He has mentioned that no one in the tennis group has been able to get hold of her instantly.

Simon has named for a complete investigation into Peng’s allegations of sexual assault, an inquiry totally free of censorship. That could establish even trickier to achieve in a country unlikely to embrace outside the house calls for on how it conducts its interior affairs.

The Worldwide Olympic Committee, with even additional at stake as it prepares to choose the Wintertime Olympics to Beijing in February, has argued for tact and guiding-the-scenes diplomacy rather than direct confrontation. But Simon and the WTA have made a decision, following thorough and lengthy consideration, to make a stand and have doubled down — insisting that if Chinese authorities do not comply, the tour would be well prepared to pull out of China, where it experienced 11 occasions on the routine this calendar year.

The men’s tour, which has four occasions of its have in China, has offered a good deal of guidance for Peng but, as of yet, no this kind of ultimatum. Simon, with even far more at threat commercially, has taken a much bolder path than his ATP counterpart, Andrea Gaudenzi, believing that increasing the temperature and raising worldwide recognition of Peng’s problem was needed.

“When you are conversing about allegations this kind of as this and sexual assault, when a female has the courage to appear up and replicate these and condition it, you have to have the courage to then abide by up and go by way of the proper approach and get to the appropriate remedy at the conclude of the working day,” Simon mentioned in an job interview on Sunday. “You can’t drinking water down or compromise this sort of an issue.”

The No. 1 men’s player, Novak Djokovic, claimed Friday that he supported the WTA’s solution. “The whole group, tennis group, needs to back again her up and her relatives, make positive that she’s secure and sound due to the fact if you would have tournaments on the Chinese soil without having resolving this condition, it would be a tiny bit bizarre,” he claimed.

Peng has had to be strong prior to, beating various injuries, adversity and isolation. She experienced a process to fix a coronary heart defect not extended ahead of leaving house at age 14: sent by Chinese officers to coach at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.