by Charley Hannagan
What happened at the tennis tournament in Wild Horse Pass in Teton County, Wyoming? This week, Chinese-media Peng Shuai was on her way to the WTA’S $1 million singles title, when she was cut from the tournament after a video appeared online of a veiled threat made to a person with a different nationality.
Watch the video, as Peng Shuai and K-pop singer, Jaeil Yoon, from an Asian celebrity gossip publication hold up the game placard at the Pospisil Family Tennis Center.
When the placard is lifted, a person in the far left corner holds up an unidentified sign stating “And here’s Jaeil Yoon. He’s Asian.”
Peng Shuai was stunned when she realized the person who was holding the sign belonged to another country. “I didn’t realize he was Asian, that’s why I didn’t say anything because I thought it was a Chinese guy.” Peng added.
When Peng Shuai saw a news article about the situation, she was shocked to see that the tournament was already backing out. “When I saw that they withdrew me, I was shocked. It was a hard feeling. I said, ‘You can let me play, but you have to have a meeting.’ ” she said.
Tournament officials apologized to Peng and said it wouldn’t happen again. The Asian source has been identified as Woo Kwang Mun. In the aftermath, the WTA has made it clear that it will address the issue.
“The incident at the Pospisil Family Tennis Center in June was highly inappropriate and did not reflect the values of the WTA, tournament organizers or community,” the WTA said in a statement. “The WTA recognizes that Peng Shuai and K-pop star, Jaeil Yoon, were not in on the prank. The WTA will speak to all stakeholders in the community to reinforce the strong ethics and integrity that the WTA holds for all of its player and staff, and their families, sponsors and partners. The WTA and the venue will speak directly with Mr. Woo Kwang Mun on the importance of maintaining the integrity of a sport that draws players from all over the world.
Regarding the controversy, Peng said, “I just think it’s a different way of handling the issue, but for me it’s sad that it came to this, and no matter how you want to handle it, I think it’s really, really bad.”
She added, “I don’t care what nationality it is. It’s a silly thing. It’s not what tennis should be about.”
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This article originally appeared in The Smoking Section