IOC says Peng Shuai has told Olympic officials she is safe


Politics

Peng “thanks the IOC for its concern for her well-being,” the Switzerland-based Olympic body said in a statement.

China’s Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Japan’s Nao Hibino at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia on January 21, 2020. The editor of a Communist Party newspaper posted a video online that said he found the missing tennis star Peng showed. Shuai watches a game on Sunday, November 21, 2021 as the ruling party tried to quell fears abroad while suppressing information in China about Peng after accusing a high-ranking leader of sexual assault. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill) The Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai participated in a 30-minute video call from Beijing with IOC officials and told them she was safe and sound, the Olympic body said on Sunday.

The call came amid growing global alarm over Peng. Her performance at a youth tennis event in Beijing on Sunday and social media posts on her behalf have failed to fully convince people outside of China that she has the freedom to act after she alleged assault against a former leading Communist Party official.

The call — featuring IOC President Thomas Bach, Athletes Committee Chair Emma Terho and IOC Member Li Lingwei, former Vice President of the Chinese Tennis Association — appears to be Peng’s first direct contact with sports officials outside of China since going public on November. disappeared. 2.

Peng “thanks the IOC for its concern for her well-being,” the Switzerland-based Olympic body said in a statement.

She explained that she lives safe and sound in her home in Beijing, but at this point she would like her privacy to be respected. That is why she now prefers to spend her time with friends and family,” the statement said.

Peng, who played for three Olympic Games for China from 2008 to 2016, made an accusation on social media of sexual assault against Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the ruling Communist Party’s Standing Committee.

The post was removed within minutes and the former top doubles player disappeared from view. She did not respond publicly to calls for information to show she was safe.

The International Olympic Committee has been criticized for being relatively quiet in public when concern for Peng grew in the past week. It has pursued a “silent diplomacy” policy with the host country of the 2022 Olympics. The Beijing Winter Games open on February 4.

Bach has now invited Peng to dinner when he arrives in Beijing in January, “which she gladly accepted,” the IOC said. Terho and Li were also invited.

“I was relieved to see Peng Shuai doing well, which was our main concern,” Terho said in the IOC statement. The hockey player from Finland represents athletes on the board of directors of the IOC.

“She seemed relaxed,” Terho said. “I offered her our support and to keep in touch when it suits her, which she clearly appreciated.”

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