Hours after Chinese language tennis boycott, IOC says it has spoken to star participant Peng Shuai

London — Simply hours after the Girls’s Tennis Affiliation (WTA) suspended all of its tournaments in China over concern for participant Peng Shuai, the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) mentioned it had held a second video name along with her and that she appeared “secure and properly, given the tough state of affairs she is in.”

At first of November, Peng, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion and Olympic medal winner, wrote on social media that she had been compelled right into a sexual relationship with a high-level Chinese language official, former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. Her submit was eliminated minutes later, and Peng was not seen in public for nearly three weeks.

An electronic mail quoted by China’s state-run media, purportedly despatched to the WTA by Peng, retracted her allegations. However different tennis gamers grew involved and began utilizing the hashtag #WhereisPengShuai to attract consideration to the case.

Lastly she was proven on Chinese language state TV, showing at a youth tennis occasion. One other video of Peng, which gave the impression to be scripted and stage managed, was posted to Twitter by the editor of a tabloid newspaper that’s intently allied with China’s ruling Communist Get together.

All of this, the WTA mentioned, was not ample proof to show her security, and on Wednesday the affiliation mentioned it was suspending a 10-year settlement with China to carry championship matches there. The pinnacle of the WTA had beforehand valued the deal at $1 billion.

The IOC mentioned in an announcement on Thursday that “a group” from the committee had held a second video name with Peng, but it surely didn’t say who was a part of that group, or what was mentioned. It additionally didn’t present any pictures or video of the dialog.

“There are alternative ways to attain her well-being and security. Now we have taken a really human and person-centered method to her state of affairs,” the IOC mentioned. “We’re utilizing ‘quiet diplomacy’ which, given the circumstances and primarily based on the expertise of governments and different organizations, is indicated to be essentially the most promising technique to proceed successfully in such humanitarian issues.”

“Whereas we now know the place Peng is, I’ve severe doubts that she is free, secure and never topic to censorship, coercion and intimidation,” Steve Simon, the chairman and CEO of the WTA, mentioned in an announcement posted earlier than information of the second IOC name. “The WTA has been clear on what is required right here, and we repeat our name for a full and clear investigation – with out censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.”

“In good conscience, I do not see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai isn’t allowed to speak freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon mentioned in his assertion saying the suspension of tournaments. “To additional shield Peng and lots of different girls all through the world, it’s extra pressing than ever for folks to talk out. The WTA will do all the pieces potential to guard its gamers. As we accomplish that, I hope leaders around the globe will proceed to talk out so justice may be accomplished for Peng, and all girls, regardless of the monetary ramifications.”

Responding to the WTA’s resolution on Thursday, International Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin mentioned China had “already expressed our view. We have at all times been towards behaviors politicizing sports activities.”

Articles about Peng have reportedly been censored on the web in China, and on-line searches for her identify go to optimistic tales about her tennis profession.

The IOC has a vested curiosity in sustaining good relations with China. The Winter Olympic Video games are scheduled to open in Beijing in February.

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