After second video call, IOC says it’ll meet Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai in person in January

The International Olympic Committee said it has held a second video call with Peng Shuai but, again, didn’t release any video or transcript of their conversation nor make any reference to the tennis player’s sexual assault allegations against a former high-ranking Chinese government official.

A grand slam doubles champion and three-time Olympian, Ms Peng dropped out of public view after making her accusation, eventually prompting the women’s professional tennis tour to suspend its tournaments in China.

As Beijing finishes its preparations to host the Winter Olympics from February 4, 2022. the IOC revealed on Thursday that it had held a second video call with Ms Peng after IOC President Thomas Bach’s recent statement that he spoke to her on a 30-minute video call and that she appeared to be “doing fine”.

“This was reconfirmed in yesterday’s call,” the IOC said.

“Our human and person-centred approach means that we continue to be concerned about her personal situation and will continue to support her.”

Once again, the IOC did not release video or a transcript of the exchange, nor explain how the call was arranged.

The IOC repeated its policy of “quiet diplomacy”, dealing directly with sports officials, which, it said, “given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organisations, is indicated to be the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters”.

It said it would “stay in regular touch with [Ms Peng], and have already agreed on a personal meeting in January”, which would be shortly before the lucrative Beijing Games begin.

Ms Peng, 35, fell out of public view after raising allegations about former vice premier Zhang Gaoli in a November 2 social media post that was quickly taken down by Chinese authorities.

A mask-wearing sports executive in a suit gestures as he makes a speech.
IOC President Thomas Bach and his organisation have a policy of “quiet diplomacy”, dealing directly with sports officials on humanitarian matters.(AP Photo: Takashi Aoyama)

Ms Peng is a former world number-one ranked doubles player and owner of titles at Wimbledon and the French Open.

Continued concern for her welfare has prompted the WTA to suspend all upcoming tournaments in China and Hong Kong.

The International Tennis Federation, the sport’s governing body, said that Ms Peng’s allegations “must be addressed”.

“Our primary concern remains Peng Shuai’s well-being,” the ITF said in a statement. “We will continue to support all efforts being made to that end, both publicly and behind the scenes.”

Chairman of the men’s professional tennis tour, Andrea Gaudenzi, said the situation raised “serious concerns within and beyond our sport” and that the response “has so far fallen short”.

“We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and [we] generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact.”

Amnesty International’s China researcher, Doriane Lau, said the Chinese government had “a track record of silencing women who make allegations of sexual violence” and called on the international community “to urge the Chinese government to investigate all allegations of sexual violence promptly and effectively”.

AP/ABC

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