IOC Speaks to Peng Shuai

The International Olympic Committee has taken a ‘quiet diplomatic approach’ with increasing concerns over the safety of the tennis player. Its President has now spoken to her in a video call. The Winter Olympics are due to take place in the Chinese capital Beijing in under 3-months.UPDATED

Peng competed at three consecutive Olympic Games at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

The IOC Athletes’ Commission had said that “together with the worldwide athlete community, the IOC AC is very concered about the situation of three-time Olympian Peng Shuai.”

“We support the quiet diplomacy approach that is being taken and hope it will lead to the release of information about the whereabouts of Peng Shuai and confirmation of her safety and well-being.

“We also hope that a way can be found for direct engagement between her and her athlete colleagues.”

Peng Shuai made allegation of sexual assault against former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli.

Ms Peng has not been seen since she made the allegations two weeks ago.

Her safety has become a matter of international concern.

It now seems Chinese tennis star is safe and well following a video call on Sunday, the International Olympic Committee says.

It is reported on the BBC.

The IOC said its President, Thomas Bach, had spoken to Ms Peng for 30-minutes.

“[She] was doing fine, which was our main concern,” a statement read.

“At the beginning of the 30-minute call, Peng Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern about her wellbeing,” the statement from the organisation said.

“She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time,” it added.

“She prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now,” it said.

“Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis.”

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has threatened to pull out of all 2022 WTA events hosted in China, should independent and undeniable evidence of Peng’s whereabouts and well being not be provided.

“This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern,” the WTA said.

With the Beijing Winter Games due to start on February 4th 2022 concerns had been rising on how events may develop.

Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022. Image c/o IOC.

The US President Joe Biden had also expressed deep concern, and wants China to “provide independent, verifiable proof”, according to the White House.

Last week President Biden said he was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics due to China’s record on human rights.

A diplomatic boycott would mean that no US officials are sent to attend the games.

The athletes and the training staff would be allowed to participate.

A diplomatic boycott “is something we are considering,” said President Biden.

Last Monday Mr Biden held his first direct talks with China’s Xi Jinping.

The White House said the Winter Olympics was not discussed during the three-hour virtual meeting on Monday.

Nancy Pelosi, the most senior Democrat in Congress, has already called for a boycott.

The US has accused China of genocide against a Muslim minority group which lives in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, the Uighurs.

There are also criticisms over the repression of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong.

China denies the allegations.

Image © PlanetSKI