Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who was missing from the public eye after making sexual assault allegations against a former vice premier of China, had a video call with Olympic officials on Sunday (Nov. 21).
"Safe and well"
According to a statement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Peng was in a 30-minute video call with IOC president Thomas Bach and other members of the IOC.
Peng said that she is "safe and well" at her home in Beijing, and "would like to have her privacy respected at this time".
IOC added that Peng will continue to be involved in tennis.
Chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission Emma Terho, who was also in the video call, said:
"I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern. 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."
IOC also said that at the end of the call, Bach had invited Peng for a dinner when he arrives in Beijing in January 2022. Peng accepted the invite.
WTA still concerned
Following the release of the IOC video, a spokesperson for Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said, as reported by the New York Times:
"It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.
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."
WTA also released a statement by its chairman and CEO Simon Steve, which was similar in essence.
"I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing. While it is positive to see her, 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. As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads."
Peng, who is a three-time Olympian, took to Chinese social media site Weibo on Nov. 2 to accuse former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
However, her post was removed within minutes.
Peng subsequently went missing from the public eye.
WTA said that officials and active players within its association were unable to reach Peng directly.
On Nov. 18, Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN) published a letter that was purportedly from Peng.
In the letter, Peng claimed that she was "not missing" or "unsafe".
On Nov. 21, the same day she had the video call with the IOC members, Peng made an appearance at a youth tennis tournament in China.
A state media journalist posted a video clip on Twitter, showing Peng interacting with young children and signing tennis balls for them.
Video shot by my colleague Cui Meng at the National Tennis Center showing Peng Shuai signing signature on large-sized tennis balls at the opening ceremony of Junior Tennis Challenger Final, a way of inspiring more kids to play tennis as hobby and may also as career pic.twitter.com/Sbyj5V5a7Y— Qingqing_Chen (@qingqingparis) November 21, 2021
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Top image via IOC website.