Peng Shuai: Chinese tennis player says she is 'safe and well' in video call but wants privacy respected
"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 said; safety of Peng has become a matter of international concern after she made sexual assault allegations against a former China vice-premier
Last Updated: 21/11/21 7:29pm
Peng Shuai says she is "safe and well" but wants her privacy respected, the International Olympic Committee said after holding a video call with the Chinese tennis player on Sunday.
A newly released video released by Chinese state media earlier purportedly showed Peng, a former Wimbledon doubles champion, at a tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday morning.
The safety of Peng, 35, has become a matter of international concern since her disappearance after she made sexual assault allegations against former China vice-premier Zhang Gaoli two weeks ago.
In a statement, the IOC said that at the start of the 30-minute call with its president Thomas Bach, Peng had thanked the IOC for its concern about her well-being.
"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 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."
IOC Athletes Commission chair Emma Terho and IOC member Li Lingwei were also on the call in what appears to be Peng's first direct contact with sports officials outside China since her disappearance from public view on November 2.
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."
On Saturday, images supposedly showed Peng having dinner with her coach and friends in Beijing.
France's foreign minister had earlier called on the Chinese authorities to provide more reassurance around Peng's wellbeing, echoing a statement by the Women's Tennis Association on Saturday that the images were "insufficient".
"While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference," WTA chief Steve Simon said.
Peng's allegation was made on Chinese social media site Weibo in early November, before the post was quickly taken down.
Neither Zang nor the Chinese government have commented on her allegation.
The UK government said it was following the case closely and remained "extremely concerned".
The WTA has threatened to pull tournaments out of China and the men's ATP has demanded clarity from Chinese authorities.
Serena Williams and Roger Federer are among a host of the sport's biggest names to have raised concerns about Peng's welfare.
Men's world No 1 Novak Djokovic said he supported "100%" the WTA's threat to axe its China events.
He said: "The whole community, tennis community needs to back her up and her family, make sure that she's safe and sound because if you would have tournaments on Chinese soil without resolving this situation, it would be a little bit strange."