- The International Olympic Committee said its leaders have been able to talk to Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
- Shuai has not been publicly seen since November 2, after she said former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
- Shuai is “doing fine” and “appeared to be relaxed,” said Emma Terho, chair of the IOC athletes’ commission.
The International Olympic Committee said it has been able to make contact with Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view after coming out with a sexual assault allegation against a former member of the Chinese government.
In a statement released Sunday, the IOC said the organization’s president Thomas Bach met with Shuai virtually over a 30-minute video call. According to the statement, Shuai told Bach that she’s safe and living at home in Beijing but “would like to have her privacy respected at this time.”
“That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now,” the IOC statement said. “Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much.”
Shuai, 35, has not been seen in the public eye since November 2, after she posted to social media site Weibo that former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her into having sex with him.
“Why did you come and look for me again, take me to your house, and force me into sex? I have no proof, and it would be impossible for me to keep any evidence. You denied everything afterward,” Shuai wrote.
The post remained up on the site for 20 minutes before it got taken down, prompting international outcry and demands for an investigation, Insider’s Rebecca Cohen and Jake Epstein explained in a timeline of her disappearance.
So far, neither Zhang Gaoli nor the Chinese government has responded to the allegation.
The US government has called for “verifiable” proof of her well-being. “Any report of sexual assault should be investigated and we support a woman’s ability to speak out and seek accountability, whether here or around the world,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.
Days after her disappearance, the Women’s Tennis Association called for an investigation into Shuai’s sexual assault accusations, adding that no one from the organization has been able to get in touch with her. On November 19, the WTA threatened to pull out of all events in China if an investigation into her claims and disappearance did not occur.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Shuai is safe, including a video of her shared by an editor of a state-run newspaper. But independent media outlets and organizations like the WTA have been unable to verify that those reports.
Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted that he could confirm Shuai was at her home “freely” and “didn’t want to be disturbed.”
“She will show up in public and participate in some activities soon,” he claimed. The English-language Global Times is owned and published by the People’s Daily, the newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party. News outlets like Reuters said they cannot verify the authenticity of his claim.
Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Emma Terho, who was also on the call with Bach, said Shuai is “doing fine” and “appeared to be relaxed.”
Insider’s Bethany Dawson and Kelsey Vlamis contributed to this report.