WTA insist IOC’s call with Peng Shuai not enough as it demands probe into sexual assault allegations
The WTA says it remains concerned about the well-being of Peng Shuai despite her video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
Three weeks after the former doubles world No 1 first accused a former senior Chinese government official of sexual assault, Peng appeared in photos and videos published by Chinese state media journalists on Saturday.
The 35-year old disappeared from the public eye after she had posted the allegations on social media with the post deleted almost immediately.
It led to the global #WhereIsPengShuai campaign with the sporting community – including tennis players Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka and Andy Murray as well as footballer Gerard Pique – raising concern about her safety and well-being.
WTA chief Steve Simon threatened to “pull business out of China” on the back of her disappearance and he insisted that the release of the photos and videos were “insufficient”.
A day later Peng attended a tennis tournament in Beijing – with footage supplied by organisers – before holding a video call with Bach.
Peng Shuai showed up at the opening ceremony of a teenager tennis match final in Beijing on Sunday morning. Global Times photo reporter Cui Meng captured her at scene. pic.twitter.com/7wlBcTMgGy
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 21, 2021
“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.”
However, the WTA is far from satisfied.
“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a WTA spokesperson is quoted as saying by Reuters.
Asked about the call with the IOC, the spokesperson said: “This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.”
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