Peng Shuai: Despite a video conference with the IOC, the WTA remained concerned about a Chinese player

Peng Shuai
Source: Skysports

According to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Chinese player Peng Shuai video conference with IOC President Thomas Bach did not address or assuage concerns about her well-being.

Peng’s whereabouts, as a former world No. 1 doubles player, became a source of worldwide concern nearly three weeks ago, when she vanished after alleging sexual assault by former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.

She later attended a dinner with friends on Saturday and a children’s tennis event in Beijing on Sunday, according to images and videos published by Chinese state media journalists and the tournament’s organisers.

The IOC said in a statement that Peng spoke with its president, Thomas Bach, for 30 minutes on Sunday, during which she stated that she was safe and well at home in Beijing and that she wanted her privacy to be respected for the time being.

“It was fantastic to see Peng Shuai in recent videos,” a WTA spokeswoman stated, “but they don’t ease or resolve the WTA’s worry about her well-being and freedom to communicate without censorship or compulsion.”

When asked about the IOC call, the spokesperson stated, “This video does not affect our need for a comprehensive, fair, and transparent inquiry, without censorship, into her accusation of sexual assault, which is the problem that prompted our initial concern.”

Concerns about Peng arise at a time when global rights organisations and others have called for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February due to China’s human rights record.

The WTA has also threatened to pull tournaments from China as a result of the situation.

Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-owned daily Global Times, who has recently aired videos and images of Peng in Beijing, said on Monday on Twitter that her appearance should be enough to assuage the fears of “those who sincerely care about (Peng Shuai’s) safety.”

“However, facts, no matter how many, do not work for those wanting to destroy China’s system and boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics,” he continued.

On November 2, Peng claimed on Chinese social media that Zhang had coerced her into sex and that they had an on-again, off-again relationship.

The post was promptly removed, and the issue was barred from further debate on China’s strictly regulated internet.

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