Winter Olympics 2022: Peng Shuai will attend several events in Beijing, says IOC amid concerns over well-being

By | February 7, 2022

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai met with International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach and will attend multiple events at Winter Olympics 2022 over the course of the next few days, the IOC said in a statement on Monday, February 7 even as concerns over her well-being are dominating headlines.

The IOC said Peng also attended the China-Norway Olympic curling match with IOC member Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe and that the Chinese tennis player has expressed her interest to travel to Europe once the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions ease out.

The well-being of Peng, a three-time Olympian, became a matter of global concern when she appeared to allege on social media that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past.

“The IOC President had a face-to-face meeting with Peng Shuai. He was joined by the former Chair of the Athletes’ Commission and IOC member Kirsty Coventry. The meeting took place on Saturday over dinner at the Olympic Club in Beijing,” the IOC said in a statement.

“Peng Shuai informed the President that she would attend several events at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 over the coming days.

“Later that evening, she and Kirsty Coventry attended the mixed curling match between China and Norway.

“During the dinner, the three spoke about their common experience as athletes at the Olympic Games, and Peng Shuai spoke of her disappointment at not being able to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“In this context, she also shared her intention to travel to Europe when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and the IOC President invited her to Lausanne to visit the IOC and The Olympic Museum, to continue the conversation on their Olympic experiences. Peng Shuai accepted this invitation.”

In her now-deleted post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, Peng had written “why did you take me to your house and force me into having relations with you?”, though she also described the relationship with Zhang as an on-off one that was also consensual. The post and her following absence from social media and public appearances led to concerns and the Women’s Tennis Association also suspended tournaments in China.

Discussion of the scandal has been heavily censored in China’s tightly controlled cyberspace and searches for Peng’s name on Weibo continue to show no recent search results.

Peng has not updated her Weibo account since the post was removed.

PENG SHUAI REITERATES STAND ON MAKING ALLEGATIONS

Peng told French paper L’Equipe during an interview earlier this week that her social media post had caused a “huge misunderstanding”, repeating comments reported by a Singapore media outlet in December, and that she did not want “any further media hype” about it.

“I’d like to say that feelings, sports and politics are three very distinct things. My lovelife problems, my personal life must not be mingled with sports and politics,” she was quoted as saying.

“And sports must not be politicised because when that happens, most of the time it means turning one’s back on the Olympic spirit and it goes against the will of the sporting world and the athletes.”

The interview was conducted in Chinese and translated into English by a Chinese Olympic official during the interview, as well as an interpreter based in Paris, said the paper.

Questions were submitted in advance, and the paper agreed to publish Peng’s responses without commentary, it said.

Peng, pictured wearing a red tracksuit top with the characters for China on it, also sought to allay fears over her safety, saying her life since November had been “nothing special”. She denied she had “disappeared” after the furore when she was not seen in public for weeks.

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