Peng Shuai: Human rights issue at US Open tennis event wins top award

Peng Shuai has not been given any extra security at Flushing Meadows

A WTA tournament making a human rights issue out of controversial Chinese player Peng Shuai has won a top award for sport, according to a former US official.

The former director of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission praised the tournament’s commitment to internationality and freedom of expression.

Peng, a qualifier for the main draw of the U.S. Open, insisted on Friday she is being harassed by a group of “hooligans”.

The tournament rejected a request from Peng for extra security.

The WTA describes Peng, 31, as an “adored sportswoman” in a statement on its website.

“Our tournament is one of the few on the women’s tennis tour that allows players to openly comment on social media, regardless of nationality, race, nationality, or political affiliation,” it says.

“Members of the WTA family are true ambassadors of sport and its power to make a positive impact around the world.

“The WTA believes that freedom of expression, including freedom of speech, is a fundamental human right, which should be protected for all.

“Peng has repeatedly asked us to provide additional security, which we have refused.”

In a statement to BBC Sport, a WTA spokesman said Peng has “always expressed her passion for social issues” and “the WTA is proud to be a part of an event that allows players to engage in their own way”.

The former EEOC chairman and acting US president Richard Holbrooke described the WTA decision as a lack of respect for human rights.

Peng and China’s Li Na were among the Chinese players who requested security after the players’ village in Beijing was firebombed in late July.

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