Chinese tennis player’s call with IOC chief not enough, says WTA

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The world body says the call is not aimed at addressing concerns over Peng’s safety following allegations of sexual assault.

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Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s video call with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not address or alleviate concern about the well-being of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the association said.

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A WTA spokeswoman said in an email on Monday that it was positive to see former couple world number one Peng in a recent video, but that concerns remained about the star’s well-being and whether she was being censored or coerced.

When asked about the call with the IOC, a WTA spokeswoman said: “This video does not replace our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation into her sexual assault allegations, without censorship, that is the issue.” Which is our initial concern.”

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The IOC said in a statement that Peng had a 30-minute call with its president Thomas Bach on Sunday, during which she said she was safe and well at home in Beijing and wanted to respect her privacy for now. Is.

About three weeks ago, Peng’s whereabouts became a matter of international concern when he alleged that he was sexually assaulted by former Chinese deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli.

On November 2, Peng posted on Chinese social media that Zhang forced her into sex and they later had a consensual relationship. The post was deleted about half an hour after it was posted.

When asked about concerns at the regular briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it was not a foreign ministry case, but noted that Peng had recently participated in some public activities.

She appeared at Dinner with Friends on Saturday and the children’s tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday, in photographs and videos published by Chinese state media journalists and tournament organizers. But they have done little to address the concerns.

Global rights groups and others have called for a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s human rights record. The WTA has also threatened to take the tournament out of China over this matter.

Hu Zijin, editor of state-run Global Times, who has posted videos and photos of Peng in Beijing in recent days, said on Twitter on Monday that her presence should be enough to ease the concerns of those who really care. We do. Protection of Peng Shuai.

“But for those aiming to attack China’s system and boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, the facts, no matter how much, do not work for them,” he said.

Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government have commented on Peng’s allegations. China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent on Monday.

The United States and Britain have called on China to provide evidence of Peng’s whereabouts, and the French foreign minister said on Sunday that Chinese officials should allow Peng to speak publicly.

“I am expecting only one thing: she speaks,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told LCI television, adding that there could be unspecified diplomatic consequences if China does not clarify the situation. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the IOC’s statement.

Current and former tennis players including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King have also joined the call to confirm that they are safe, using the social media hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai?

Men’s singles world No 1 Novak Djokovic said it would be strange to hold the tournament in China until the “terrible” situation is resolved.

The topic has been barred from discussion on China’s heavily censored internet and comment sections on several old posts by users about and on all remaining posts on Peng’s official Weibo account have been closed.

Some Weibo users have found ways to get around the censors by commenting on accounts belonging to foreign tennis players or sports commentators. While many expressed relief to see her again over the weekend, others said they were skeptical.

“I hope it’s not staged,” said one.

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