Amid growing speculation over the whereabouts of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, China’s foreign ministry warned against politicization and speculation about the star’s well-being.
“This is not a diplomatic matter,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing on Tuesday.
Zhao said, “I believe everyone must have noticed that she has recently participated in some public activities and also had a video call with IOC President (Thomas) Bach. I hope that some People will stop spreading malicious propaganda, let alone politicisation.”
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said on Monday it was still concerned despite Peng’s presence and calls from the International Olympic Committee.
A WTA spokeswoman said in an e-mail: “While it is nice to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, they do not reduce or address the WTA’s concern about his well being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.” Huh.” “This video does not replace our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation into her sexual harassment allegations, without censorship, which is the issue that sparked our initial concern.”
WTA still concerned about Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai
Peng was not seen earlier this month when he accused former Chinese deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex several years ago. His absence from public view prompted international demands for his protection for Chinese officials.
On Sunday, the three-time Olympian and former Wimbledon champion stood near a tennis court, waving and signing over-sized commemorative tennis balls for children.
Later, he had a 30-minute call with IOC President Thomas Bach, who said he thanked the IOC for its concern.
“She explained that she is safe and sound at her home in Beijing, but wishes to respect her privacy at this time,” the IOC said in a statement.
“That’s why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to engage in tennis, the sport she loves,” the IOC said.
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch criticized the IOC, accusing it of cooperating with Beijing and undermining the IOC’s “expressed commitment to human rights, including the rights and protections of athletes”.
Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement: “The IOC continues to remain silent about Beijing’s abhorrent human rights record for curtailing freedom of speech and actively cooperating with Chinese authorities in defiance of alleged sexual assault.” have taken.” “The IOC appears to be rewarding its relationship with a major human rights violator on the rights and protections of Olympic athletes.”
The China Open posted a note on the Weibo social media network about Peng’s appearance at the youth tournament, but made no mention of his disappearance or allegations of assault.
Unless Peng’s safety was assured, the women’s professional tennis tour threatened to pull out of China.
Tennis players clash with Communist Party of China: Where is Peng Shuai?
“Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of Peng Shuai,” International Tennis Federation President and International Olympic Committee member Dave Haggerty said in a statement on Sunday. His videos this weekend appear to be a positive step, but we Will continue to seek direct contact and confirmation from Peng Shuai himself that he is safe and sound.”
Peng’s disappearance and charges against the former Chinese official come as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics starting February 4 amid international condemnation of China’s human rights record.
Current and former players such as Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King took to social media to prove Peng was safe.
World’s top men’s player Novak Djokovic called the situation “terrible” and questioned whether tennis tournaments should be held in China until it is resolved.
Some information in this report has been received from Reuters and Associated Press.