Peng Shuai Denies Sexual Assault Allegation and meets IOC president

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai met with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, the IOC said in a statement Sunday. Following the meeting, Peng attended the mixed curling match between China and Norway, the IOC said. 

Last year in November, Peng Shuai alleged that former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her into sex during a years-long relationship, on the Chinese social media site Weibo. The accusations were quickly deleted from Chinese social media, and Peng was not heard from for nearly three weeks.

Her disappearance triggered widespread concern around the world. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) lead the campaign for information on her welfare. In December WTA decided to suspend a 10-year agreement to host various tournaments in China.

After the Weibo post was taken down, an email allegedly written by Peng and addressed to Women’s Tennis Association head Steve Simon read, “The allegation of sexual assault is not true. I’m not missing nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.” Simon said at the time that he had “a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.”

Shortly after the WTA’s announcement, Thomas Bach said he had spoken with Peng again.

China risk analyst and CBS News contributor Isaac Stone Fish noted that IOC’s involvement was odd, “the International Olympic Committee — an organization known for its close ties with Beijing — was the Western conduit for [the] alleged video chat with Peng, as opposed to, say, the Women’s Tennis Association, which has been a lot more critical.”

Peng on Sunday, told the French publication L’Equipe, that she never made the accusation, calling it an “enormous misunderstanding,” according to The Associated Press. “Sexual assault? I never said that anyone made me submit to a sexual assault.” “This post resulted in an enormous misunderstanding from the outside world,” she added, according to AP. “My wish is that the meaning of this post no longer be skewed.”   Clarifying her disappearance, Shuai stated that she never disappeared. Instead, she said that she had been contacted by so many people on social media thereon that she couldn’t keep replying to one and all. “Considering my age, my multiple surgeries and the pandemic that forced me to stop for so long, I believe it will be complicated to regain my physical level,” Shuai concluded.

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