“She explained that she is safe and healthy, living in her home in Beijing, but would like her privacy to be respected at this time,” the IOC said in a statement.
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai held a video call Sunday with the president of the International Olympic Committee and told him she was safe, the IOC said after Western governments said. growing concern for her well-being.
Photos and videos with Peng The Beijing Children’s Tournament, released earlier in the day, did little to quell that concern after nearly three weeks of public absence after she claimed she had been raped by a former high-ranking Chinese official.
The IOC said in a statement that Peng began a 30-minute conversation with its President, Thomas Bach, thanking the Olympic organization for its concern.
“She explained that she is safe and healthy living at her home in Beijing, but would like her privacy to be respected at this time,” the IOC said in a statement.
“This is why she prefers to spend time with friends and family right now. However, she will continue to play tennis, the sport she loves so much. “
The French foreign minister had earlier called on the Chinese authorities to provide more guarantees, echoing the Women’s Tennis Association’s claim that Peng’s images at the tournament were “insufficient” evidence.
“The only thing I expect is for her to speak,” Frenchman Jean-Yves Le Drian told LCI TV, adding that there could be unspecified diplomatic repercussions if China does not clarify the situation. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the IOC statement.
The US and UK have also called on China to provide evidence of Peng’s whereabouts.
Current and former tennis players, from Naomi Osaka to Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, have joined the calls trying to confirm that she is safe using the social media hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai? World # 1 Novak Djokovic said it would be strange to have tournaments in China if the “dire” situation was not resolved.
Concerns about Peng arose when global rights groups and other organizations called for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February due to human rights abuses in China.
On November 2, Peng posted on Chinese social media that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had raped her several years ago.
Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government commented on her accusations. Peng’s social media post was quickly deleted and discussion of the topic on the heavily censored Chinese Internet was blocked.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of state-supported Global Times, posted a 25-second video on Twitter on Sunday of Peng smiling, waving his hands and signing autographs for giant tennis balls for kids at the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger final tournament. Global Times is published People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Photos of her from the tournament were shown on the official event page on WeChat. Peng, 35, became the world’s first doubles player in 2014 and the first Chinese player to come out on top after winning the doubles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014.
On Saturday night, Peng visited a popular restaurant in downtown Beijing, according to a video posted by Hu, which was confirmed by the restaurant manager. Reuters on Sunday.
According to manager Zhou Hongmei, seven people, including Peng, were at the Sichuan restaurant, adding that they ate in a separate room and were joined by the owner of the restaurant.
“The restaurant was crowded as usual,” Zhou said, showing a bill that contained noodles and bamboo shoots. “They didn’t have much. I think they mostly chatted. “
A spokeswoman for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which has threatened to withdraw the tournaments from China, previously said the photos and videos were “insufficient” and did not address WTA concerns.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has said it will continue to seek confirmation from Peng that she is safe.
Chinese state media CGTN An email was released on Wednesday that Peng sent to the WTA chairman denying she was sexually assaulted.
WTA chairman Steve Simon said he found it difficult to believe that Peng herself wrote the letter.