The International Olympic Committee said on Sunday that the president had a 30-minute video call with Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai as international pressure for information about her well-being mounted.
“Today, IOC President Thomas Bach held a video call with three-time Olympian Peng Shuai of China,” the organization said in a statement.
“At the beginning of the 30-minute conversation, Peng Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern for her well-being,” it said, adding that “she explained that she lives safe and sound in her home in Beijing, but would like her privacy is currently respected”.
“That’s why she now prefers to spend her time with friends and family, but she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much.”
The call came amid international concerns for Peng’s well-being after she disappeared from the public eye earlier this month after alleging former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, now in her 70s, forced her into sex during an on-again, off-again relationship lasting several years.
After a worldwide outcry, including from tennis superstars and the United Nations, Chinese state media reporters released a torrent of images claiming that Peng is all right.
And official photos of events showed her appearing at a tennis tournament in Beijing earlier Sunday.
Bach was joined during the talk with her on Sunday by IOC Athlete Commission Chair Emma Terho and IOC Member in China Li Lingwei, who had known Peng for many years from her time in the Chinese Tennis Federation, the IOC statement said.
“I was relieved to see Peng Shuai doing well, which was our main concern,” Terho said.
“She seemed relaxed. I offered her our support and kept in touch whenever it suited her, which she clearly appreciated.”
The talk ended, the statement said, when Bach invited Peng “to dinner once he arrives in Beijing in January, which she happily assumed, and the two agreed to include Emma Terho and Li Lingwei”.
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