Clamor for WTA Finals for human rights champion Peng Shuai to make tour cut

“Clearly her stance is that there is human rights here that should be respected,” he said

Last weekend’s Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is not hosting the championship of the WTA Finals because its contender, Peng Shuai, was arrested in China in March and convicted of a “gossip” crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

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If Peng goes to jail, she could serve a prison sentence of up to five years.

The human rights advocacy group Amnesty International has said that Peng is being mistreated in detention, after pictures and videos emerged online of her suffering torture, humiliation and physical abuse.

“Clearly the WTA’s stance is that there is human rights here that should be respected,” said the former US foreign service officer and United Nations official, Geoffrey Pyatt.

“I think the threat to human rights in this case was a really difficult and painful message, and frankly I believe it was a decision motivated by a long-standing policy, in place for many years, that people’s activities outside China that have significant positive and negative impact on the regime are not in the WTA’s best interest.”

On Saturday, Peng and Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying lost to home star Angelique Kerber and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the $2.8m finale.

Peng said in the tournament she hoped the politics would be kept out of her tournament. In an interview with the BBC on Friday, the 36-year-old said she was an innocent bystander in her own arrest.

With the right to choose an opponent for the $10.6m women’s championship tennis event in Singapore, WTA officials selected four “assigned” singles seeds, including an unranked player. That decision caused an outcry from women’s activists.

The next day, they announced the tournament had been cancelled, citing “extraordinary circumstances.”

“It is deeply regrettable that some in the WTA community were unable to find a common ground on how best to respond to the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen,” the organization said in a statement.

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