Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai spoke to Olympic officials in a video call and told the international body that she is fine. the International Olympic Committee said on Sunday. There has been global concern for his safety since he disappeared shortly after accusing a former Chinese vice premier of sexual assault.
According to the statement, IOC President Thomas Bach, IOC Athletes Commission President Emma Terho, and IOC member Li Lingwei spoke with Peng on the call on Sunday. The IOC included a photo of the call in the statement, but did not attach a video.
“I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was fine, which was our main concern. She seemed to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to be in contact at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated,” Terho said. .
‘WHERE IS PENG SHUAI?’: The tennis world questions his safety
The IOC said Peng thanked the committee during the 30-minute call for their concern for his well-being. She added that Peng would like her privacy to be respected and that she would rather spend time with family and friends. He also noted that Bach, Terho and Li will dine together before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
The Associated Press reported that Peng, who was once ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles, was spotted at a youth tennis tournament in China on Sunday, with the Global Times sharing photos.
Peng is the latest Chinese citizen to disappear after criticizing government officials. The AP noted that while some resurface, they are often reluctant to share whether they were detained.
The AP reported Peng wrote on November 2 in a post on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that three years ago, Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy prime minister and member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, forced her to have sex despite their negatives. Peng further wrote that they also had sex seven years ago and that she later developed feelings for him. The post was deleted minutes after it was posted.
Peng’s whereabouts were then unknown, raising international concern for his safety. The tennis stars started with the hashtag “WhereIsPengShuai.”
November 14 WTA President and CEO Steve Simon called on China to properly handle Peng’s allegations, “which means that the allegations must be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship.” The AP reported that even if Peng’s accusation can be proven, there is a risk of imprisonment or penalties for embarrassing the party.
Chinese state television showed an email allegedly from Peng who retracted the sexual assault complaint. Simon said that she had a hard time believing Peng wrote the email and that “I am only concerned about her safety and her whereabouts.”
Concerns also reached the White House, with press secretary Jen Psaki asking China to assure the United States that Peng was safe.
“We join in calls for the authorities (of the People’s Republic of China) to provide independent and verifiable evidence of his whereabouts and that he is safe,” Psaki said on Friday. “We know that the People’s Republic of China has zero tolerance for criticism and a history of silencing those who speak out and we continue to condemn such practices.”
That day, the editor-in-chief of the Global Times posted videos of Peng, though Simon said in a statement “It is not clear whether she is free and capable of making decisions and acting on her own, without coercion or outside interference.”
“This video alone is insufficient,” Simon said. “As I have said from the beginning, I remain concerned for Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the sexual assault charge is being censored and hidden under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads. “
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.