(Reuters) – The president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) told the BBC that it did not have plans to suspend events in China amid widespread concern for player Peng Shuai.
The former doubles world number one made a sexual assault accusation against former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli then disappeared from public view last month, prompting the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to suspend its lucrative tournaments in China.
ITF President David Haggerty said the sport’s governing body, which oversees the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup along with a number of lower-level tournaments, did not have plans to follow suit.
“We don’t want to punish a billion people, so we will continue to run our junior events in the country and our senior events that are there for the time being,” Haggerty told the BBC, adding that the group would “work behind to scenes” to help resolve the matter.
The WTA’s decision to pull its tournaments earned the support of current and former players including WTA founder Billie Jean King but enraged Beijing, with foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying China “opposes the politicization of sports.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; editing by Richard Pullin)