Peng Shuai news: IOC feel they have answered the ‘where is Peng Shuai’ question despite ‘propaganda’ claims

Shahida Jacobs
Where is Peng Shuai T-shrit

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach insists his organisation have answered the “where is Peng Shuai?” question despite a reporter stating that his recent interview with the tennis player was “part of propaganda from China.

Peng hit the headlines in November last year when she accused a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault through a post on social media.

The post was deleted soon after it went live while the former doubles world No 1 disappeared from the public eye for several weeks, which led to the international social media campaign “Where Is Peng Shuai” and resulted in the WTA suspending all tournaments in China.

However, Peng eventually made some public appearances again with state-backed media releasing footage of her attending several events while she also held a video call with Bach in December before having a face-to-face meeting with the IOC boss at the start of the Winter Olympics.

Peng also had an interview with French paper L’Equipe last week in which she stated that the sexual assault allegations were a “huge misunderstanding”.

The WTA, though, insisted the recent interviews failed to “alleviate any of our concerns” while the reporter who conducted the L’Equipe interview, Marc Ventouillac, also raised concerns.

Peng Shuai news: WTA chief warns that interview ‘does not alleviate any of our concerns’

“It’s impossible to say,” Ventouillac said about whether or not Peng is free and safe.

He added: “It’s a part of communication, propaganda, from the Chinese Olympic Committee.

“It’s important, I think, for the Chinese Olympic Committee, for the Communist party and for many people in China to try to show: ‘No, there is no Peng Shuai affair’.”

Yet, IOC chief Bach insisted that they answered some questions.

“We were trying to answer the question everybody was asking: ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ This is why we took this human-centred approach from the very beginning,” he said.

“This is why we invited her for a meeting here, to show everybody it is not just a one-off effort. We will keep this contact up. We answered the question ‘where is Peng Shuai?’ We are continuing by having invited her to come to Lausanne.”

He added: “You could see it in her appearances that she is enjoying the Games, enjoying being among athletes and the public and this is why we are continuing to have this contact.

“It is about caring for her. It is a human thing. It is about a person and the feelings, the emotions of one person.

“I hope I will meet her again in the summer in Lausanne to show that this caring is not finished with the Games. It is an ongoing effort.”