Rick Scott Calls on FIFA, International Sports Associations to Stop Holding Events in China

This week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote to eight international sports associations urging them to follow the lead of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and immediately suspend all planned events in Communist China.

These organizations all currently have scheduled sanctioned competitions in Communist China, including at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Senator Scott is urging the sports associations to suspend all involvement with Communist China until Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who disappeared and has been the victim of intense censorship, is free from coercion, allowed to freely speak and there is a thorough and completely transparent investigation into her accusations of sexual assault.

This letter follows Scott’s letter to National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver requesting a meeting to discuss the league’s involvement with Communist China. The NBA responded by refusing to meet with Scott.

The following sports associations received a letter from Scott:

  • International Cycling Union (UCI)
  • International Golf Federation (IGF)
  • International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)
  • International Skating Union (ISU)
  • International Ski Federation (FIS)
  • International Swimming Federation (FINA)
  • International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)
  • World Athletics

The letter Scott sent out on Wednesday is below.

Dear International Sports Governing Body:

The recent disappearance and censorship of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, the former Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) top-ranked doubles player, has shocked the world and exposed the terrifying lack of basic rights and human decency experienced by the Chinese people at the hand of General Secretary Xi’s ruthless communist regime.

In response to these disturbing events, the WTA set an example for the world in its decision to suspend all of its scheduled tournaments in Communist China, including Hong Kong, until Ms. Shuai is free and able to speak without interference or intimidation, and Beijing allows for a full and completely transparent investigation into her accusation of sexual assault by former Vice Premier of Communist China, Zhang Gaoli.

The WTA understands that playing tournaments in Communist China puts athletes at risk, and that the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Ms. Shuai cannot be tolerated. We all must recognize and support the WTA in making this significant action and choosing human rights and player safety over profits. This cannot be limited to tennis. As an organization which represents the interests of the world’s athletes, and the integrity of competition, I would hope you are deeply concerned that the Chinese Communist Party would silence and censor an athlete because she spoke out about sexual assault.

I recently wrote to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver requesting a meeting to discuss the league’s involvement in Communist China. In my letter, I told Commissioner Silver:

Organizations with operations in Communist China, like the NBA, have a responsibility to speak out about these abuses and leverage their positions to influence change. We all have a responsibility to put human rights above profits, and in the face of General Secretary Xi’s genocide, horrific crimes against women, media censorship, the destruction of democracy and religious persecution, the NBA could be a powerful voice for human rights. But if the NBA continues to forsake its responsibility, it gives tacit approval to the Chinese Communist Party’s abuses.

This statement is as true for the NBA as it is for your organization. So today, I write to you to urge you to follow the WTA’s lead and immediately suspend all of your organization’s planned events in Communist China until Ms. Shuai is free from coercion, allowed to freely speak and there is a thorough and completely transparent investigation into her accusations of assault.

Now is the time for the world of sport to stand united and demand accountability. The safety of all athletes, including those competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, cannot be jeopardized by your decision to put profits over people and fail to publically condemn the abuses of the Chinese Communist Party.

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