Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai stated she was secure and properly throughout a video name with the International Olympic Committee chief Sunday, the organisation stated, amid worldwide concern about her well-being after her explosive claims of sexual assault. At the start of a 30-minute name with IOC President Thomas Bach, “Peng Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern about her well-being,” the organisation stated in a press release. “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 stated.
“That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much.”
Earlier Sunday, Peng was seen attending a Beijing tennis match, in official images of the occasion, marking her first public look since she made her accusations in opposition to former vice premier Zhang Gaoli, and so they had been scrubbed from the Chinese web.
The 35-year-old two-time Grand Slam doubles champion alleged earlier this month that Gaoli, now in his 70s, pressured her into intercourse throughout an on-off relationship spanning a number of years.
Following a world outcry, together with from tennis superstars and the United Nations, Chinese state media reporters have launched a flurry of footage purporting to indicate all is properly with Peng.
A video from the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals occasion, tweeted by Global Times newspaper editor Hu Xijin, reveals Peng standing in a stadium amongst a gaggle of visitors whose names are introduced to a smattering of applause.
A Global Times reporter tweeted one other video exhibiting Peng signing autographs for youngsters at what seems to be the identical stadium earlier than posing for images with them.
Hu additionally posted two different movies on Saturday, the primary exhibiting Peng strolling right into a restaurant sporting a coat, knit cap and face masks, and the second of a maskless Peng sitting at a desk chatting with individuals over a meal.
AFP couldn’t confirm the authenticity of the movies.
Hu tweeted in English that the second video reveals “Peng Shuai was having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant. The video content clearly shows they are shot on Saturday Beijing time”.
The chat seems to be staged. Peng seems relaxed within the footage, which seems to have been taken with a cell phone, however these together with her are at pains to stress the date in considerably stilted feedback.
Peng’s claims in opposition to Zhang had been the primary time China’s #MeToo motion has touched the best echelons of the ruling Communist Party.
They had been shortly scrubbed from the Twitter-like Weibo platform, and issues for her security have mounted ever since.
The Women’s Tennis Association has threatened to finish profitable contracts with China until it will get phrase of Peng’s security.
On the restaurant movies, WTA boss Steve Simon stated he was glad to see the photographs however “it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference”.
“This video alone is insufficient,” Simon stated in a press release.
“I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”
A WTA spokeswoman later instructed AFP that Sunday’s photographs from the Beijing match nonetheless didn’t deal with their issues.
IOC Athletes’ Commission chair Emma Terho nonetheless stated she was relieved after Sunday’s video name, during which she took half.
“I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern,” Terho stated within the IOC assertion.
“She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated.”
‘Independent, verifiable proof’
A rising refrain of voices within the sports activities world and past has been demanding solutions about Peng’s scenario.
US President Joe Biden’s press secretary stated his administration needed China to “provide independent, verifiable proof” of her whereabouts.
Britain’s overseas workplace additionally stated it was “extremely concerned” and urged China to launch verifiable proof, whereas France’s overseas minister stated she needs to be allowed to talk freely to make clear her scenario.
The United Nations has insisted on a completely clear investigation into the claims made by Peng.
Some of the most important names in tennis have spoken out in regards to the case, together with Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Naomi Osaka.
Peng represented China on the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics and received gold for China on the 2010 Asian Games.
She is a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion.
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