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

The video call comes after one of China’s most famous sports stars, Peng, publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her into sex at his home, according to images from a since-deleted social media post on November 2.
After the accusation, Ping disappeared from public view, prompting several tennis players to express their concerns on social media, using the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.

The IOC has not made the video publicly available nor explained how the call was organized. Instead, it posted the photo of the call and a statement saying that Peng is “safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like her privacy to be respected at this time.”

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch’s director for China, Sophie Richardson, decried the IOC’s role in cooperating with Chinese authorities on Ping’s resurgence, while Steve Simon, president of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), said the IOC’s interference Not enough to allay concerns about Bing. safety.

“I have to say I’m really baffled by this assessment,” Pound told CNN’s Christian Amanpour in response to the criticism.

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

“Only the IOC was able to do this, and there was a video chat with Thomas Bach, an older Olympian, and two younger IOC members. Nobody posted the video because I think this aspect of it was private.

“They found her in good health and in good spirits and they didn’t see any evidence of confinement or anything like that.”

Pound added that he had not seen a recording of the video call, but was “simply relying on the combined judgment of the three IOC members who were involved in the call.”

Peng was joined on the call by a Chinese sports official who formerly served as the Communist Party secretary of the China Tennis Administration Center.

Pound also denied there was any potential conflict of interest between the International Olympic Committee and the Chinese government with the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

“We don’t have real relationships with the Chinese government,” Pound said.

“We are very keen on splitting the organization of the Olympics. These are not government games. These are IOC games, and there is an organizing committee responsible for that.”

The WTA and the United Nations called for a full investigation into allegations of sexual assault.

Ping has publicly accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex at his home, according to images from a since-deleted social media post dated November 2.

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

“Was it just to tell her story or does she want an investigation and [drop] Its consequences if it is able to establish coercion?

Last weekend, several people associated with state media and the Chinese sports system tweeted photos and videos that they said showed Bing to dinner on Saturday and at a teenage tennis event in Beijing on Sunday.

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

In this photo still from Chinese state media, Peng can allegedly be seen at a teenage tennis event in Beijing on Sunday.  CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity or date this image was taken.
On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the government hoped “malicious speculation” about Peng’s well-being and whereabouts would stop, adding that her case should not be politicized.

Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang, and there is no indication that an investigation is underway. It remains unclear whether Peng reported her allegations to the police.

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Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stressed that Peng’s indictment is not a diplomatic issue and declined to make further comments. CNN has reached out to the State Council Information Office of China, which handles press inquiries of the central government.

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

Before retiring as Vice Premier of the State Council, Zhang was head of a Chinese government working group for the Beijing Games. In this role, he inspected the stadiums, visited the athletes, unveiled the official emblems, and held meetings to coordinate the preparations.

Zhang previously met Bach, the IOC president who made a video call to Peng, on at least one occasion, as the two were filmed shaking hands in the Chinese capital in 2016.

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