One of China’s most recognizable sports activities stars, Peng publicly accused a former prime Communist Party official, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, of coercing her into intercourse at his dwelling three years in the past in a since-deleted social media submit dated November 2.
Peng was instantly muffled by blanket censorship and disappeared from public view for greater than two weeks, prompting the ladies’s tennis world to demand solutions as to her whereabouts — in addition to a full investigation into her allegations in opposition to Zhang.
Amid rising world outcry, people working for Chinese government-controlled media and the state sports activities system launched a variety of “proof of life” images and movies of Peng.
On November 21, the IOC stated in an announcement that its president, Thomas Bach, held a 30-minute video name with three-time Olympian Peng, alongside a Chinese sports activities official and a further IOC consultant, and stated that through the name, Peng gave the impression to be “doing high-quality” and was “relaxed,” saying she “want to have her privateness revered.” The IOC didn’t clarify how the video name with Peng was organized and has not made the video publicly obtainable.
Summarizing the second name, the IOC stated that it had provided the tennis star “wide-ranging help,” and pledged to remain in common contact together with her, including that it had “already agreed on a private assembly in January.”
The IOC additionally advised CNN that it wasn’t offering any visible asset of Wednesday’s second video name amid rising skepticism about how freely Peng has been allowed to speak, in addition to concern for her security.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on Wednesday introduced a direct suspension of all tournaments in China, together with Hong Kong, in response to Beijing’s silencing of the sexual assault allegations.
Later on Thursday, a WTA spokeswoman advised CNN it had acquired a brand new electronic mail from Peng.
According to the WTA, that is the third electronic mail its had from Peng.
Citing a “confirmed supply” in a Twitter submit Thursday, Chinese state media-affiliated reporter Shen Shiwei stated that the e-mail from Shuai “expressed her shock for WTA’s unfair determination to droop all tournaments in China.”
Reacting to this newest electronic mail, a WTA spokeswoman stated that the group stands by its determination to droop tournaments in China.
China hits again at boycott
WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon stated that the choice was primarily based on the “unacceptable” response of Chinese officers, together with dashing to censor Peng’s allegations and ignoring requires a full and clear investigation.
“In good conscience, I do not see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai just isn’t allowed to speak freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon stated.
“Given the present state of affairs, I’m additionally drastically involved in regards to the dangers that each one of our gamers and employees might face if we have been to carry occasions in China in 2022.”
Beijing fired again on the determination, with China’s state-run outlet, the Global Times, accusing the WTA of “setting a foul instance for the whole sporting world,” in a extremely vital editorial revealed Thursday.
The piece referred to as the WTA’s determination an “exaggerated present,” supposed to behave as “a lever of Western public opinion in opposition to China’s political system.”
China “firmly opposes any act that politicizes sports activities,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin added throughout a briefing Thursday.
“Unfortunately, the management in China has not addressed this very critical situation in any credible means. While we now know the place Peng is, I’ve critical doubts that she is free, secure, and never topic to censorship, coercion, and intimidation,” Simon stated.
Longtime IOC member Dick Pound stated the “unanimous conclusion” by these on the November 21 name with Peng is that she is okay, including he has been “puzzled” by the worldwide response to the decision.
Chinese authorities haven’t acknowledged Peng’s allegations in opposition to Zhang — who has light from public life since his retirement in 2018 — and there’s no indication an investigation is underway. It stays unclear if Peng has reported her allegations to the police.
Players sign help for WTA
Men’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic stated he supported the WTA’s boycott.
“I help absolutely WTA’s stance as a result of we do not have sufficient details about Shuai Peng and her well-being,” Djokovic stated in Madrid following a Davis Cup tie. “It’s lifetime of a tennis participant that’s in query right here, so we, because the tennis group, want to face collectively.”
Tennis nice Martina Navratilova referred to as the WTA’s transfer a “courageous stance,” and requested “what say you, @IOC ?!? #IOC – up to now I can barely hear you!!! #WhereisPengShuai.”Meanwhile, WTA founder and 12 grand slam singles winner Billie Jean King stated the group was on “the appropriate aspect of historical past in supporting our gamers,” including that she applauded Simon and the WTA for “taking a powerful stand on defending human rights in China & around the globe.”
Zhang has saved a low profile and light from public life since his retirement in 2018, and there’s no public info referring to his present whereabouts.
Before retiring as vice premier, Zhang was the top of a Chinese authorities working group for the Beijing Games. In the position, he inspected venues, visited athletes, unveiled official emblems and held conferences to coordinate preparation work.
Zhang beforehand met with IOC President Bach on at the very least one event, with the 2 being photographed collectively shaking fingers within the Chinese capital in 2016.
CNN’s Aleks Klosk contributed reporting.