Peng Shuai appears to confirm she is ‘safe and well’ during video call
Concerns over the safety of tennis star Peng Shuai have eased after she told the International Olympic Committee she is “safe and well” during a video call on Sunday.
The IOC had been criticised for not following the WTA and ATP in issuing strong statements regarding the welfare of Chinese player Peng, who had not been heard from since making allegations of sexual assault against a senior government official more than two weeks ago.
The IOC instead said it favoured “quiet diplomacy”, and on Sunday the organisation, which will stage the Winter Olympics in Beijing in just over two months’ time, released a statement detailing the video call with Peng.
It read: “Today, IOC president Thomas Bach held a video call with three-time Olympian Peng Shuai from China.
“He was joined by the chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Emma Terho, and IOC member in China, Li Lingwei, who has known Peng Shuai for many years from her time in the Chinese Tennis Federation.
“At the beginning of the 30-minute call, Peng Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern about her wellbeing. 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.
“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.”
Terho, a former ice hockey player from Finland, said: “I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern. She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated.”
Previously, Peng had been seen at a restaurant and a junior tennis tournament in photos and video released by Chinese state media.
It remains to be seen whether the latest development will satisfy the WTA and its head Steve Simon, who has been praised for his forceful stance on the situation.
Simon has threatened to pull tournaments out of China, the most lucrative market for women’s tennis, if Peng’s allegations against Zhang Gaoli, China’s former vice premier, are not fully investigated.
The IOC’s statement made no reference to Peng’s claims, which were made on the social media site Weibo and quickly removed.
Rafael Nadal confirms one event that he will skip in 2023 as cool images emerge from exhibition match
Rafael Nadal won’t defend one of his titles in 2023.
Bianca Andreescu finally ‘in tune with herself’ and hopes to use tennis ‘to help inspire others’
Bianca Andreescu feeling the love on and off the court.
Canada worthy Davis Cup winners as lucky losers, wildcards and substitutes all part of tennis history
Oh, Canada! Enjoy your Davis Cup win.
Ashleigh Barty ‘honoured’ as she battles Nick Kyrgios for prestigious Australian tennis award
Who is your Australian tennis player of the year?
Rafael Nadal says Big Three rivalry with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic key to their longevity
Rafael Nadal says Big Three rivalry has taken them to “extreme mental and tennis levels”.
Judy Murray the latest to be accused of accepting ‘sportswashing role in Saudi Arabia’
Judy Murray urged “to use the opportunity to speak out and show solidarity”.
Fernando Verdasco’s voluntary doping suspension opens a can of worms in tennis
The use of Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in tennis questioned.
Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jack Draper in the running for two ATP Awards
Your nominees for the 2022 ATP Awards.
Mom-to-be Angelique Kerber eyes comeback and hopes to be an inspiration for new moms and women
Angelique Kerber reveals her comeback plan.
Emma Raducanu focusing on ‘bigger picture’ as she admits ‘I’ve never done any normal teenage things’
Emma Raducanu on missing out on “normal things” and getting advice from Andy Murray.