Peng Shuai Says She's 'Safe and Well'

Chinese tennis star speaks to IOC
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2021 12:35 AM CST
Updated Nov 22, 2021 12:55 AM CST
Peng Shuai Speaks Up
China's Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Japan's Nao Hibino at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia on Jan. 21, 2020.   (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File)

Hours after showing up at a youth tennis event, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai spoke up, too. In a 30-minute video call with the president of the International Olympic Committee and others Sunday, "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 says in a statement cited by the Guardian. "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." Prior to Sunday, the three-time Olympian had not been seen in public for almost three weeks, after revealing she was allegedly sexually assaulted by China's former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.

This appears to have been her first direct contact with sports officials outside China since prior to Nov. 2, and according to the statement, Peng accepted an invitation to dine with the three officials on the call in Beijing in January. One of them said she appeared "relaxed" and that it was a relief to see her well, but after the call, the Women’s Tennis Association pointed out that neither the IOC's call nor the footage of Peng at recent events confirms that Peng can speak without censorship or coercion, and that the WTA wants "a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault." The UN has called for the same, CNN reports. (More Peng Shuai stories.)

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