Tennis group takes heroic action against brutal Chinese regime; others need to follow

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
FILE - China's Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Japan's Nao Hibino at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia on Jan. 21, 2020.
  • The Women's Tennis Association has suspended its tournaments in China.
  • The move was made after Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai basically disappeared.
  • Peng made a sexual assault allegation against an ally of the Chinese president.

The Women’s Tennis Association recently did something that’s as rare as a blizzard in July.

It put morality before money.

The organization should be applauded for that, and more businesses and organizations should follow its courageous lead.

If you haven’t heard, the WTA, the governing body of women’s pro tennis, has ordered its tournaments suspended in China — a move that could cost the organization $1 billion in revenue.

The reason for the suspension? WTA chief executive Steve Simon wants to see real proof that Chinese pro tennis player Peng Shuai “is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation.”

Peng has basically disappeared after she made a sexual assault allegation against a close ally of President Xi Jinping.

Since her allegation, the only reported Peng sighting came via a video call with the International Olympic Committee. The IOC then concluded “that she was fine."

More:Olympic officials: Chinese tennis star Peng says she is safe

More:Obama slams Russia, China over ‘lack of urgency’ in climate matters

Of course, that video hasn’t been made public, which makes its validity dubious at best, especially since the IOC has a vested interest in not rocking the Chinese boat. Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympic Games in February, an event that will produce billions of dollars in revenue for the IOC.

It’s clear that the IOC is not willing to take the same brave steps as the WTA.

Other human-rights abuses in China: What makes the IOC inaction even sadder is the fact that Chinese human-rights abuses extend far beyond Peng.

The brutal Chinese regime is also enslaving Uyghur Muslims, crushing dissent in Hong Kong, threatening neighboring Taiwan and polluting the world environment.

Yet the IOC does nothing, trotting out its old trope that politics and sports shouldn’t mix.

Diplomatic boycott: At least the Biden Administration will enact a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. That means that there won’t be an official U.S. delegation at Beijing, but that U.S. athletes and coaches can still participate.

A number of other western nations have joined that diplomatic boycott.

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It’s a half measure, at best, but it’s at least a signal that current Chinese behavior is unacceptable, without also punishing the American athletes, who have worked a lifetime for their Olympic opportunities.

That includes Glen Rock’s Summer Britcher, who is likely to make a third straight Olympic luge appearance.

Taking away athletic opportunities isn’t the answer to punishing bad behavior. It didn’t work in Moscow in 1980 and it won’t work now.

Economic punishment: What may work is punishing China economically.

That’s why other businesses and organizations should use the WTA as an example and eliminate, or at least limit, their investments in China.

Yes, the economic hardships of such actions would likely flow both ways, and U.S. businesses, and the American economy as a whole, may suffer. That suffering would likely even extend to folks here in York County.

In the end, however, financial punishment may be the only language that China understands.

It’s far past time for Olympic sponsors such as s Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Visa to reexamine their association with the Chinese government and the IOC.

A lone voice in the wilderness: Is there any chance that will happen? About as much chance as snow in July.

Money, as it almost always does, will trump morality.

In the meantime, the WTA will remain a lone voice crying in the wilderness against injustice.

Maybe someday, some others will heed their heroic clarion call.