Emails from Peng Shuai are "orchestrated" - WTA chief Steve Simon 

Steve Simon has doubled down on his concern regarding the safety of Peng Shuai
Steve Simon has doubled down on his concern regarding the safety of Peng Shuai

The WTA announced on Thursday that it will suspend all tournaments in China over concerns about the safety and whereabouts of Peng Shuai.

The Chinese tennis player has not been heard from in over a month, after she made allegations of sexual assault against former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. The only communication that has been attributed to her are emails she reportedly sent the WTA.

One of these emails expressed shock over the WTA's decision to suspend all tournaments in China.

In a recent interview, WTA chief Steve Simon claimed these emails were "orchestarted" and that he does not believe they reflect her true emotions.

"I would characterise them (the emails) as orchestrated at this time. When you come out with allegations that she did early in November, they were significant and detailed," Simon told CNN. "And now to be receiving the emails and correspondence from her (Peng Shuai) that are just 100% orchestrated... I do not think they reflect what the allegations did and the true position. I can only imagine the range of emotions she's going through."
.@WTA Chairman Steve Simon has had email correspondence with #PengShuai including an email from her today. He tells me that he believes those emails are "100% orchestrated."

Simon said that while he has been assured of Shuai's physical safety, he does not believe she is acting on her own behalf.

"We don't have a lot of contact, but the contact we have had with the region has been consistent," he said. "She's in Beijing, she's fine, she's not under any physical stress, etc. which is what we have seen in the videos and pictures we see. We just feel very strongly this has been orchestrated. It is consistent with those that are very familiar with the region - as to how these things are handled there."

The International Olympic Committee, which spoke to Peng Shuai via video call last month, has claimed it had a second call with the Chinese player on Thursday, and has arranged a personal meeting with her in January. The committee has called for "quiet diplomacy" on the issue.

We want fair and transparent investigation into Peng Shuai's allegations" - Steve Simon

Peng Shuai at Wimbledon 2018
Peng Shuai at Wimbledon 2018

During the interview, Simon spoke about how the WTA has two main areas of concern: to find out if Peng Shuai can speak without being censored, and for a fair and transparent investigation into the allegations she made.

"We have two principle points: we definitely want to confirm Peng is available to speak without censorship or any pressures or restrictions in any way, and we do want a transparent investigation of these very serious allegations," he said.
‘It's life of a tennis player that is in question here, so we, as the tennis community, need to stand together,’ Novak Djokovic said, after the Women's Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in China over concerns about the wellbeing of Peng Shuai

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Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
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