Disappearance of tennis player in China challenges brands sponsoring Association

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) threat of leaving China after one of its stars, Peng Shuai, disappeared leaves at least two global brands watching to see how it plays out.

Peng, a two-time former Grand Slam doubles champion, has disappeared from the public eye since he accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex in a November 2 social media post that was deleted in minutes.

Concerns for her safety increased after Chinese state media released a screenshot of an email, allegedly from Peng and sent to the WTA, backtracking on her allegations and stating that “everything is fine”.

In an interview with Erin Burnett, from CNN, WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon, said the player’s well-being and the need for her allegations to be properly investigated were “greater than the business” the WTA has in China.

“We are definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it,” said Simon.

Two of the WTA’s official partners – Volkswagen-owned Porsche and German software maker SAP (SAP) – may have a different opinion about putting their own business in the world’s second-largest economy at risk, supporting the association’s position in Peng.

O CNN Business contacted the two companies for comment. Neither of them has responded so far.

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