Peng Shuai videos don't quash safety concerns: WTA
Peng Shuai made a 30-minute video call to president of International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Peng disappeared from public view after she accused former China Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault
Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said Peng's public apperances didn't dispel concerns about her wellbeing
Peng Shuai’s 30-minute video call from Beijing with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hasn't done much to dispel concerns about her wellbeing, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said Monday. The safety of the Chinese tennis star has been a matter of global concern after she disappeared from public view for weeks following sexual assault allegations against the country's former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. Zhang, who served served on the Communist Party's seven person Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017, is considered to be a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The former doubles world number one was seen at a dinner with friends on Saturday and a children’s tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday, photos and videos published by Chinese state media journalists and by the tournament’s organisers show.
“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a WTA spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Peng's call with the IOC had no bearing on the demand 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."
The IOC said in a statement that Peng held a 30-minute call with its president Thomas Bach on Sunday and thanked the Olympic organization for its concern.
“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.”
Peng's November 2 post on Chinese social media site Weibo was allegedly censored within hours as she accused Gaoli of coercing her into a sexual relationship.
The WTA has threatened to pull tournaments out of China over the issue amid growing calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
France’s foreign minister called on Sunday for Chinese authorities to let Peng speak publicly.
“I’m expecting only one thing: that she speaks,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told LCI television.
The United States and Britain have also sought proof of Peng’s whereabouts, as have current and former tennis players, including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, using the social media hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai?