Olympic bosses to meet Chinese tennis star Peng in Beijing
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has revealed that it plans to meet Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai in Beijing next month and says it spoke to her last week.
The 36-year-old disappeared from the public eye in late 2021 after appearing to accuse former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her.
And amid a still-ongoing "Where is Peng Shuai?" campaign which stole headlines at the Australian Open when T-shirts with the slogan were confiscated before a policy reversal, the IOC has claimed it will touch base with the 2013 Wimbledon ladies' doubles champion.
"Since the first call that the IOC held with Peng Shuai on 21 November 2021, the IOC team has kept in touch with her and had a number of conversations with her, the last one just the past week," said a spokesperson from the organization to the Washington Post.
"In this way, we got to know each other better.
"For instance, she told us that she is looking forward to the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and intends to follow the competitions and her fellow Chinese Olympians closely," the spokesperson continued.
"She also mentioned again that she is looking forward to a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach and Emma Terho, the chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, to which we had invited her in the first conversation. This meeting will happen during the Games.
"In arranging the different conversations, the Chinese Olympic Committee has always been very supportive and will also ensure that the meeting can happen even under very strict Covid-19 countermeasures and in the closed-loop that is in place during the Games," the statement concluded.
The Beijing Winter Olympics kick off on February 4 amid a US diplomatic boycott supported by countries such as Australia and the UK.
Since her original comments on Weibo, Peng said in December that she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her, and that her post had been misunderstood.
"First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point," Peng claimed as part of a video interview published by Singapore news outlet Lianhe Zaobao.
This reversal came on the same weekend that Peng was pictured at a cross country skiing event with basketball icon Yao Ming, and Peng could also appear at the Olympics before they conclude on February 20.