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Chinese tennis star says she is safe in video call with Olympic official

WorldNov 21, 2021 09:37PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: China’s Peng Shuai serving during a match at the Australian Open on January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo 2/2

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai had a video call on Sunday with the president of the International Olympic Committee and told him she was safe and well, the IOC said, after Western governments expressed mounting concern for her well-being.

Photos and videos of Peng at a children's tournament in Beijing published earlier in the day had done little to quell that unease, following a nearly three-week public absence after she alleged that a former senior Chinese official sexually assaulted her.

In a statement, the IOC said Peng began the 30-minute call with its president Thomas Bach by thanking the Olympic organization for its concern.

"She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time," the IOC's statement said.

"That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much."

France's foreign minister had earlier called on the Chinese authorities to provide more reassurance, echoing a statement by the Women's Tennis Association that the images of Peng at the tournament were "insufficient" proof.

"I'm expecting only one thing: that she speaks," France's Jean-Yves Le Drian told LCI television, adding that there could be unspecified diplomatic consequences if China did not clear up the situation. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the IOC's statement.

The United States and Britain had also called for China to provide proof of Peng's whereabouts.

Current and former tennis players, from Naomi Osaka to Serena Williams to Billie Jean King, had joined the calls seeking to confirm she was safe, using the social media hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai? World No.1 Novak Djokovic said it would be strange to hold tournaments in China unless the "horrific" situation was resolved.

The concern over Peng came as global rights groups and others have called for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February over China's human rights record.

On Nov. 2, Peng posted on Chinese social media that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her several years ago.

Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government have commented on her allegation. Peng's social media post was quickly deleted and the topic has been blocked from discussion on China's heavily censored internet.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-backed Global Times, posted a 25-second video on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) on Sunday that showed Peng smiling, waving and autographing giant tennis balls for children at the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals tournament. The Global Times is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party.

The event's official WeChat page showed photos of her at the tournament. Peng, 35, was the world No.1 doubles player in 2014, the first Chinese player to achieve a top ranking, after winning the doubles titles 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 that a restaurant manager confirmed to Reuters on Sunday.

Seven people including Peng were at the Sichuanese restaurant, said the manager, Zhou Hongmei, adding that they ate in a private room and were joined by the restaurant's owner.

"It was crowded at the restaurant as usual," Zhou said, showing a bill that included noodles and bamboo shoots. "They didn't have much. I think they mostly chatted."

A spokesperson for the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), which has threatened to pull tournaments out of China, had said earlier that the photos and video were "insufficient" and did not address the WTA's concerns.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said it would continue to seek confirmation from Peng that she was safe.

Chinese state media outlet CGTN on Wednesday released what it said was an email Peng had sent to the WTA's chairman denying she had been sexually assaulted.

WTA chairman Steve Simon said he had a hard time believing that Peng herself had written the email.

Chinese tennis star says she is safe in video call with Olympic official
 

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Comments (15)
David David
David9 Nov 22, 2021 1:04AM ET
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I have been offline for a few days now, why no one cares about me?
Andrea Luo
Andrea Luo Nov 22, 2021 12:12AM ET
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she should offline a few days more which will let us have more shows to watch
morning wood
morning wood Nov 21, 2021 9:55PM ET
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a typical vvhore wanting to get rich quickly by funking a politician
David David
David9 Nov 21, 2021 9:55PM ET
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if you say someone funk someone, you need to provide vidoe proof, without that, is all he said she said...
Lily Zhang
Lily Zhang Nov 21, 2021 9:55PM ET
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How much did chinese goverment pay u?
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Nov 21, 2021 9:48PM ET
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The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) can’t make to much money in China, or else they’d take a silent approach like the NBA.
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Nov 21, 2021 5:29PM ET
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If China is covering up sexual assaults from party members, instead of hanging then out to dry, I think the end of China is near. If the Chinese can’t trust there government to be just, the system will collapse
David David
David9 Nov 21, 2021 5:29PM ET
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Are you Gordon Chang? Braahahahhaa...
Chris Wh
Chris Wh Nov 21, 2021 4:42PM ET
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And this news belongs on investment app?
Oldfashioned Owl
Oldfashioned Owl Nov 21, 2021 4:42PM ET
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Anything anti China helps.
Zebra Lo
Zebra Lo Nov 21, 2021 3:15PM ET
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The western really care about Peng? The answer is not really, maybe some of them do but most of them have their own agenda for their own personal gain against china.
Oldfashioned Owl
Oldfashioned Owl Nov 21, 2021 3:15PM ET
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Agree. Its just a collective bumhurt against Chinese growing power that's oozing through unrelated pores.
Simon Liu
Simon Liu Nov 21, 2021 3:11PM ET
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Epstein is safe.
Brendan Sherry
Brendan Sherry Nov 21, 2021 3:11PM ET
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Loooolll
David David
David9 Nov 21, 2021 1:23PM ET
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She went offline for a few days... oh China must have done something.... she reappeared normally.... oh we are not assure.... Braaaahahahha...whatever... 🥣 🦀
Steve Bojo
Steve Bojo Nov 21, 2021 12:54PM ET
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Glad she’s “safe”, for now. However, what does this have to do with investment and finance?
John Laurens
John Laurens Nov 21, 2021 12:54PM ET
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Exactly! This is the America page of this website, and it’s completely filled with Chinese nonsense. The China first slant of this website and their constant pro communist Reuters drivel on this “US” page is embarrassing.
David David
David9 Nov 21, 2021 12:54PM ET
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is none of that... is about defending the truth and correcting western propaganda...
John Laurens
John Laurens Nov 21, 2021 10:26AM ET
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nobody cares..
SureWin Sam
SureWin Sam Nov 21, 2021 9:51AM ET
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Good job, Hacker..
Sean Livingstone
Sean Livingstone Nov 21, 2021 7:36AM ET
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A few months ago, media also says Jack ma disappeared. Media likes to fake news.
David David
David9 Nov 21, 2021 3:28AM ET
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Braahahahahaha..... 🥣 🦀
Paul Dunne
Paul Dunne Nov 21, 2021 3:23AM ET
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Relevance? Will this racketeering affect the net value of the stock market?
Empire Destroyer
Empire Destroyer Nov 21, 2021 3:23AM ET
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Nothing affects stock market value, it only goes up so just long and TP whenever you feel like it
Steffen vdm
Steffen vdm Nov 21, 2021 3:23AM ET
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Pretty sure investors will use this as a great excuse to reach new ATH next week.
Empire Destroyer
Empire Destroyer Nov 21, 2021 3:23AM ET
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yep 🤣🤣
Edward Chong
Edward Chong Nov 21, 2021 3:23AM ET
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haha ok i long apple until 500 ok !
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Nov 21, 2021 3:23AM ET
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Yes, China stocks continue to go down or at least investors hit a pause when Chinese gov continue heavy hand
 
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