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China's Peng Shuai in action during a match against Japan's Nao Hibino in Melbourne Park on January 21 2020. Picture: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
China's Peng Shuai in action during a match against Japan's Nao Hibino in Melbourne Park on January 21 2020. Picture: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Berlin — The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has held a second video call with doubles former world No 1 Peng Shuai amid concerns about the Chinese tennis player’s wellbeing, the IOC said in a statement on Thursday.

The IOC said it held the call, after having first talked to the player on November 21, on Wednesday evening Swiss time, just before the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced an immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the player’s wellbeing.

“We share the same concern as many other people and organisations about the wellbeing and safety of Peng Shuai. This is why, just yesterday, an IOC team held another video call with her,” said the IOC.

“We have offered her wide-ranging support, will stay in regular touch with her, and have already agreed on a personal meeting in January,” it said, adding Peng appeared to be “safe and well given the difficult situation she is in”.

Beijing is hosting the 2022 winter Olympics in February.

The whereabouts of Peng, a three-time Olympian, became a matter of international concern after a nearly three-week public absence after she posted a message on social media in early November alleging that China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her.

Neither Zhang, who retired in 2018, nor the Chinese government have commented on Peng’s allegation and the topic has been blocked from direct discussion on China’s heavily censored internet.

The decision by the US-headquartered WTA to walk away from one of its biggest markets was applauded by many leading figures in the tennis world, though it could cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcasting and sponsorship revenue.

Reuters

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