Chinese tennis player speaks to Olympic official, insists she’s “safe and well”

PHOTO: Flickr/Andrew Campbell

Following mounting concern about her welfare, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has spoken to the International Olympic Committee to say she’s safe. According to a Reuters report, Peng had a 30-minute video call with IOC president, Thomas Bach.

The call came as Western governments expressed concern when the player had not been seen in public for nearly 3 weeks. Her absence followed an allegation she posted on social media – now deleted – that she had been sexually abused in the past by a former Chinese government official. Following her call with Bach, the IOC issued a statement.

“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. 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.”

A number of Western governments, including France, the UK, and the US, have voiced concern about Peng’s welfare, as have tennis legends including Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, and Novak Djokovic. The Women’s Tennis Association have dismissed photos that show Peng at a recent children’s tennis tournament, saying they do not provide sufficient reassurance that she is safe.

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Earlier in the week, Chinese state media released what it claims is an email from Peng to the chairman of the WTA, in which she denies have been sexually assaulted. Steve Simon, WTA chairman, says he finds it hard to believe Peng wrote the email. The WTA has threatened to cancel tournaments in China due to its concerns.

Yesterday, a short video of Peng at the children’s tennis tournament appeared on Twitter. In the clip, the tennis star can be seen smiling and signing autographs. The video was posted by The Global Times, which is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

SOURCE: Reuters

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