Peng Shuai: IOC member Dick Pound ‘amazed’ at reaction to tennis player’s video call

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The video call comes after Peng, one of China’s most recognizable sports stars, publicly accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex in her home, according to screenshots of a since-deleted post on social media dated November 2. .
After the accusation, Peng disappeared from the public eye, prompting several other tennis players to express concern on social media by using the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.

The IOC did not make the video publicly available and did not explain how the call was organized. Instead, it released a photo of the call and a statement saying Peng is “safe and well, living in her home in Beijing, but would like her privacy respected at this time.”

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch China Director Sophie Richardson condemned the IOC’s role in cooperating with the Chinese authorities on Peng’s return, while the head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Steve Simon, said the IOC’s intervention was insufficient to allay concerns. on Peng’s security.

“I have to say I’m really amazed at that assessment of it,” Pound told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in response to the criticism.

“Basically, lots of people around the world were looking to see what happened to Peng Shuai and no one was able to establish contact.

“Only the IOC was able to do that, and there was a conversation that was held using video with Thomas Bach, who is an older Olympian, and two younger female IOC members. No one has released the video because I guess on that the aspect of it was private.

“They found her in good health and in a good mood, and they saw no sign of confinement or anything like that.”

Peng has not been directly seen in public since the charge of sexual coercion.

Pound added that he has not seen a recording of the video call, but “simply trusts the combined judgment of the three IOC members who were on the call.”

Peng was joined by a Chinese sports official who previously served as the Communist Party’s secretary of the Chinese Tennis Administration Center.

Pound also denied that there is any potential conflict of interest between the IOC and the Chinese government with the Beijing Winter Olympics due to begin in February.

“We do not really have ties to the Chinese government,” Pound said.

“We’re pretty careful about splitting up the organization of the Olympics. It’s not government games. It’s IOC Games and there’s an organizing committee in charge of it.”

The WTA and the UN have called for a full investigation in her allegations of sexual assault.

Peng publicly accused China's former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex in her home, according to screenshots of a since-deleted post on social media dated November 2.

“The first thing you need to do is find out what she was trying to accomplish with the post,” Pound said of Peng’s deleted social media posts.

“Was it just to tell her story, or did she want a study and [drop] consequences if she was able to establish the coercion? “

Last weekend, several people connected to Chinese state media and sports systems tweeted photos and videos that they say show Peng out eating on Saturday and at a tennis event for teens in Beijing on Sunday.

Through the videos, Peng says very little, but is seen smiling. CNN cannot independently verify the videos or confirm when they were filmed.

In this still image from Chinese state media, Peng can reportedly be seen at a tennis event for teenagers in Beijing on Sunday.  CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity or shooting date of this image.
On Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry said the government hoped “malicious speculation” regarding Peng’s well-being and whereabouts would stop, adding that her case should not be politicized.

The Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s charges against Zhang, and there is no indication that an investigation is underway. It is still unclear whether Peng has reported his allegations to police.

Who is Zhang Gaoli?  The man at the center of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai's #MeToo claim

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference on Tuesday that Peng’s accusations were not a diplomatic matter and declined to comment further. CNN has approached the Chinese Prime Minister’s Information Office, which handles press inquiries to the central government.

Zhang has kept a low profile and disappeared from public life since his retirement in 2018, and there is no public information about his current whereabouts.

Prior to his resignation as Deputy Prime Minister, Zhang was the leader of a Chinese government working group for the Beijing Games. In the role, he inspected venues, visited athletes, unveiled official emblems and held meetings to coordinate the preparatory work.

Zhang previously met with Bach, the IOC president, who held a video call with Peng, on at least one occasion, where the two were photographed shaking hands in the Chinese capital in 2016.

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