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Response in China still relatively quiet to WTA's move

China's government controlled-media lashed out at the (WTA) on Twitter -- a platform blocked in China GETTY IMAGES

While the WTA has suspended its events in China due to the treatment of Peng Shuai, within the country, there is "no news about the decision, no public discussion as to why, nor any response from Chinese tennis fans,” according to Gan and George of CNN.com. But in contrast to the “blanket silence at home,” China's government controlled-media “lashed out at the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) on Twitter” -- a platform blocked in China – “accusing the organization of ‘putting on an exaggerated show,’ and ‘supporting the West's attack on Chinese system.’” Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of the government-owned nationalist tabloid Global Times, became the first state employee to “challenge the WTA's decision Thursday” via Twitter. That was followed by a Global Times "editorial" posted on Twitter in English, “accusing the WTA of ‘expanding its influence in a speculative way, bringing politics into women's tennis deeply, setting a bad example for the entire sporting world.’” It did not mention “what triggered the WTA's decision” to pull out of China in the first place. The editorial was not “posted on the newspaper's Chinese-language social media accounts.” The lengths Beijing has “gone to hide its anger" toward the WTA from the Chinese public “shows just how serious and sensitive the scandal is” in the eyes of the ruling Communist Party (CNN.com, 12/3).

DEFYING THE STATUS QUO: TENNIS.com's Steve Tignor wrote with the WTA pulling its Chinese tourneys, "here was the game of [Billie Jean King] flexing its progressive muscle." Tennis, with its dual-gender history and world-famous women athletes, was “uniquely positioned” to back up one of those women in her #MeToo complaint. After WTA Chair & CEO Steve Simon “made his statement,” top players, male and female, “voiced their support.” Together, they "may not make a crack in China’s authoritarian wall," but they have shown that it is "possible to talk back to it." Tennis’ international reach and male-female player base makes it “capable of defying the status quo and creating change on a global scale.” Tignor: "Here’s to Peng and Simon for having the courage to keep that world-shaking legacy alive" (TENNIS.com, 12/3).

DIRTY BUSINESS: In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote the IOC "won't even consider sanctions against China because of the ongoing situation" with Peng, because the governing body for international sports and the government of China are "the same sort of self-serving cartels, joined at the hip." It is "laughable" that the IOC "thinks it has put a bow on the controversy involving Shuai by telling us they saw the young woman on Zoom and she looked swell.” The IOC is “permanently in bed” with China, which now “gets to host the Winter Olympics 14 years after it hosted the Summer Games" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/5). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joshua Robinson wrote the contrasting tactics of the WTA and IOC "underlined just how far some organizations with business interests in China were prepared to go to avoid an international incident" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/5).

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