Peng Shuai Says He Is Safe During Video Call With International Olympic Committee
During the video call, the two men were accompanied by a Chinese sports official, Li Lingwei, as well as the president of the athletes’ commission, Emma Terho. The IOC did not provide CNN with access to the video.
The video comes after Peng, one of China’s most recognizable sports stars, publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex at his home, according to screenshots from screen of a social media post deleted since November 2.
She has not been directly seen in public since the charge, prompting several other tennis players to voice their concern on social media, using the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
The Women’s Tennis Association and the United Nations have called for an investigation into her allegations of sexual assault.
According to the IOC statement, Peng thanked the committee for their concern for her well-being and insisted that she is “safe and well, that she lives at home in Beijing, but would like her life. privacy is respected at the moment. That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family at this time. “
The call, which reportedly lasted 30 minutes, appears to be Peng’s first known direct contact with officials outside of China since the allegations.
“I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing well, which was our main concern,” Terho said. “She seemed relaxed. I offered to support her and keep in touch anytime she saw fit, which she obviously appreciated.”
Also according to the IOC, Peng accepted an invitation to dinner with Bach and Terho as well as Li – a former director and secretary of the Communist Party of the Tennis Administration Center of General Administration of Sport of China – in January, before 2022. Olympic Games d ‘winter.
Following the IOC’s statement that Bach spoke to Peng, a WTA spokesperson said that was not enough to “alleviate or address the concerns of the WTA.”
“It was nice to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they do not alleviate or address the WTA’s concerns about his well-being and his ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” the spokesperson told CNN in a statement.
“This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent, uncensored investigation into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that raised our initial concern.”
Steve Simon, the WTA chief, also called for stronger proof of Peng’s freedom. In a letter to Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, Simon requests that she be allowed to leave the country or to speak live via teleconference with him and no one else present.
His request came as several people with links to Chinese state media and the sports system tweeted photos and videos which they said show Peng having dinner on Saturday and at a teen tennis event in Beijing. Sunday.
Throughout the videos, Peng says very little but he is seen smiling. CNN cannot independently verify video clips or confirm when they were filmed.
Although Simon expressed his relief to see Peng in these clips, he said his concerns remained.
“It is still not clear whether she is free and capable of making decisions and acting on her own, without coercion or outside interference,” said Simon.
Peng’s explosive sexual assault allegations, made in an article on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, were suppressed within 30 minutes of posting, and any mention of the accusation online was quickly erased .
Until Chinese state media released the videos this weekend, Peng had not been seen in public for about three weeks, causing a worldwide uproar.
Beijing has faced increasing international pressure to show proof of its well-being, including from the United Nations, the US government and the world’s biggest tennis stars.
Simon, the head of the WTA, said he was prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in business in China if Peng was not fully considered and his allegations were not addressed. an appropriate investigation.
Previous reporting provided by CNN’s Nectar Gan and Mohammed Tawfeeq.