Peng had been out of sight since she made allegations of sexual assault against former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Nov. 2.
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai held a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) chairman Thomas Bach, telling him she was safe and sound, the IOC said after Western governments expressed concerns about her well-being.
Peng had been out of sight since she made allegations of sexual assault against former Chinese deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli on Nov. 2. Videos and photos of her appeared on Saturday, but the women’s tennis tour, the WTA, was still concerned about her well-being.
Emma Terho from Finland, from the IOC Athlete Commission, and Chinese IOC member Li Lingwei also attended the 30-minute talk.
“I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing well, which was our main concern. She seemed relaxed. I offered her our support and was able to keep in touch with her at any time, which she clearly appreciated,” Terho said in a statement.
Peng had disappeared after saying on Chinese social media that Zhang forced her into sex and they later had an on-off consensual relationship.
Zhang was a member of the party’s ruling Standing Committee until 2018.
The French foreign minister had called on Chinese authorities to provide more reassurance, following a statement by the Women’s Tennis Association that the images were “insufficient” evidence.
Current and former tennis players, including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, had joined the calls to confirm she was safe, using the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai on social media.
I am devastated and shocked by the news from my colleague, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not remain silent. I send her and her family much love during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) Nov 18, 2021
Concern over Peng came as global human rights groups and others called for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February over China’s human rights record.
The women’s professional tour was in danger of taking events out of China unless the former top doubles player’s safety was assured.
Discussion of Peng’s accusation has been removed from websites in China.
A government spokesman denied knowing about the outrage on Friday. The ruling party’s internet filters also prevent most people in China from seeing other social media abroad and most global news channels.