WTA Tour set to return to China in 2023 following suspension over Peng Shuai situation
Hong Kong’s Davis Cup team, featuring three of the top 10 players in the world in Li Na of China, Caroline Wozniacki of South Africa and the newly crowned US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, has been suspended over allegations of wrongdoing involving the former world No 1 Peng Shuai.
The WTA Tour has suspended the Hong Kong team’s membership, with their ranking points, following an allegation of “wilful misconduct” that involved the “willful misappropriation” of some of the top 10 players.
WTA Tour president Steve Simon has added the WTA “has full confidence in the Hong Kong team and that all will be vindicated.”
The suspension comes after a report from the South China Morning Post on Thursday afternoon revealed “wilful misconduct” in which Peng was said to have “allegedly misappropriated” large sums of money when she was head of Heng Mui Sports, the umbrella group which manages top Hong Kong tennis players including Li and Wozniacki.
The report also claimed Peng was involved in a “potentially illegal betting operation” and that she, and her husband, had received money allegedly taken from a bookmaking operation run by a former coach.
The allegations have been investigated by the British Olympic Association (BOA) and an investigation committee, with a full report due to be released in the coming weeks.
The Hong Kong team has already been suspended from the Commonwealth Games after a similar report by the South China Morning Post. A Commonwealth Games spokeswoman said the report was “most troubling,” adding that the allegations highlighted the “untrustworthiness and failure of the International Olympic Committee”.
On Friday, the BCCI expressed its concern over the suspension and said it hoped “no further action” would be taken following the investigation.
The BCCI said it was “alarmed” the HKWTA team was suspended, and that “the BCCI strongly condemns such conduct”.
Hong Kong’s Davis Cup squad was due to travel to Spain, as part of a tour of Europe, beginning on July 29. However, after the allegations were raised, the tournament was suspended until further notice.
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