Peng Shuai said she was safe on video calls, the Chinese tennis star’s International Olympic Committee says
The two were accompanied on the video call by a Chinese sports official, Li Lingwei, and the chairman of the athletes’ commission, Emma Terho. The IOC did not give CNN access to the video.
The video comes after Peng, one of China’s most famous sports stars, publicly accused former Vice Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex in his home, as shown by screenshots of a November 2 social media post that has since been deleted.
She has not been seen in public since the allegation, leading several tennis colleagues to worry on social media under the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
The Women’s Tennis Association and the United Nations have called for an investigation into their sexual assault allegations.
Steve Simon, the head of the WTA, also called for more robust evidence of Peng’s freedom, demanding on Friday that she either leave the country or speak to him live on a conference call and no one else is around.
His request came after several people associated with the Chinese state media and sports system tweeted photos and videos that were supposed to show Peng over dinner on Saturday. The clips that intentionally highlight certain dates could not be independently verified by CNN.
Although Simon expressed his relief to see Peng in these clips, he said his concerns remained.
“It remains unclear whether she is free and able to make decisions and take action independently, without coercion or outside interference,” said Simon.
According to the IOC statement on the 30-minute phone call, Peng thanked the committee for its concern for her welfare and insisted that she “is safe and sound, lives in her Beijing home but wants her privacy respected” this time. That’s why she now prefers to spend her time with friends and family. “
“I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was fine and that was our main concern,” said Terho. “She seemed relaxed. I offered her our support and was able to stay in touch at all times, which she obviously -preciated.”
Also according to the IOC, in January, before the winter of 2022, Peng took an invitation to dinner with Bach and Terho as well as Li – a former director and party secretary of the Tennis Administration Center of General Administration of Sport of China – at the Olympics.
Previous coverage by CNNs Nectar Gan and Mohammed Tawfeeq.