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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday December 3 2021

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic says the tennis community needs to stand together on the issue of Peng Shuai.

Photo Source: Mark Peterson / Corleve

World No.1 Novak Djokovic has come out in full support of the WTA’s decision to suspend events in China due to the nation’s censorship of Peng Shuai regarding her allegations of sexual assault against former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli.

Tennis Express

Djokovic’s stance is not at all what we’ve seen from the ATP Tour, which released a statement that said “We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact. We will continue to consult with our members and monitor any developments as this issue evolves."

That statement, which was notably lacking a direct show of support for the WTA’s decision to pull out of China, was ridiculed by the likes of Andy Roddick and Martina Navratilova on Thursday. Many had hoped that the ATP would produce a stronger response, given that they have shown a strong willingness to partner with the WTA since the pandemic began.

"Are we to understand that the ATP would have made the same statement had the player been a male?" Navratilova tweeted. "An ATP Tour pro?!? Somehow I think not."

Djokovic, speaking from Madrid where he is playing the Davis Cup, told reporters that he fully supports the WTA’s decision.

“I support fully WTA's stance because we don't have enough information about Shuai Peng and her well-being, and her health is of the utmost importance for the tennis community regardless of the fact that it's her,” he said. “It can be anybody, both male and female player that something like this could happen. I don't see anything wrong in WTA and everyone, actually, ATP, as well, asking for clarity on what is going on.”

The 20-time major champion praised the stance of the WTA as “bold and courageous.”

“We don't have enough information, and I think it's a very bold, very courageous stance from WTA. I haven't seen the news. You just told me now. I have to see a little bit more what are the details, but I support it. I think it's important that we support each other, as I said, ATP, WTA, PTPA, male, female players. Regardless of which organization you belong to or your personal stance, I think collectively we need to have a little more clarity on what is going on. I don't know if she has stated something or not. I have not seen it officially. Just maybe a week or few weeks ago, some kind of statement went out, she was asking for privacy. You know, it's really sad that we don't have enough clarity on that. I mean, it's life of a tennis player that is in question here, so we, as tennis community, need stand together, and so I support it.”

IOC “In Bed with China” says broadcaster Bob Costas

The International Olympic Committee also released news on Thursday regarding the Peng Shuai case. They said they had held a second video call with Peng and once again declined to release any of the video or to address the topic of Peng’s allegations of sexual assault.

“There are different ways to achieve her well-being and safety,” the IOC’s statement read. “We have taken a very human and person-centred approach to her situation. Since she is a three-time Olympian, the IOC is addressing these concerns directly with Chinese sports organisations. We are using “quiet diplomacy” which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organisations, is indicated to be the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters.”

Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas spoke on CNN and accused the IOC of “being in bed with China” on the issue.


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