Ultimately, this case showed how even the most conscientious organizations can find that their plans have been undermined by Chinese politics, how any business can inadvertently become a vessel for international quarrels.
“If you get angry on both sides, it means there is no middle ground, which I thought was important,” said Dreyer, a sports analyst based in Beijing.
Like other observers, Dreyer suggested that the WTA’s stance could potentially be a game-changer. But he also noted that the WTA may have been easier to challenge China than, say, the NBA, for two reasons.
First, since the pandemic has already forced the WTA to cancel their events in China in the near future, the tour has not necessarily been deprived of large sums of money in the short term. (The severance of relations with China will, of course, require the WTA Tour to replace tens of millions of dollars in revenue and prize money.) Second, since China has largely erased all references to Peng and the ensuing international outcry from its news and social media, the WTA brand is not can suffer a lot there. Many in China just don’t know about Peng or the WTA response.
“The NBA burned jerseys,” Dreyer said. “You don’t have that kind of reaction to tennis.”
To be sure, major sports leagues that have deep, long-standing interests in China, aside from an extreme turn of events, will not leave the market anytime soon. And some organizations are still going for broke.
The IOC, which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, has ignored all calls from critics for the organization to make any statement about human rights abuses in China, including the treatment of religious minorities in the western regions of the country.