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The concern over the safety of Chinese women’s tennis player Peng Shuai has not gone away following Peng’s conversation via video with IOC president Thomas Bach on November 21st.
On Tuesday, the European Union joined the United Nations and the White House in calling for “verifiable proof of Peng Shuai’s safety.”
“The EU joins growing international demands, including by sport professionals, for assurances that she is free and not under threat,” the EU said in a statement. “In this spirit, the EU requests the Chinese government to provide verifiable proof of Peng Shuai’s safety, well-being and whereabouts. The EU urges the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault.”
On November 2, Peng posted to Chinese social media that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her three years ago following a round of tennis, while Zhang’s wife guarded the door. Her post was deleted nearly 30 minutes after publication and Peng’s Weibo account — a Chinese social media platform — was blocked from searchers on the platform.
She was not heard from publicly until a November 17th statement attributed to Peng was shared on Twitter by CGTN — a Chinese state-affiliated media company — where Peng denied her claim that Zhang sexually assaulted her.
Shortly before her video call with the IOC, video of Peng appeared online via Chinese state media that showed Peng eating at a restaurant with her coach and friends, as well as appearing at a youth tennis tournament in Beijing.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has questioned the statements and appearances by Peng, saying that Peng’s call with the IOC does not change their call for an investigation into her sexual assault claims.
“This video does not change our call 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,” a WTA spokeswoman said in an email to ESPN.
WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon told CNN that he was willing to pull business out of China if her accusations of sexual assault are not investigated and “until we have a chance to speak with [her] directly.”
“We’re at a crossroads with our relationship obviously with China and operating our business over there,” Simon said. “There’s no question about it… We’ve had a lot of success over there. I think that when you look at this though, there’s too many times in our world today when we get into issues like this that we let business, politics, money dictate what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“When we have a young person who has the fortitude to step up and make these allegations, knowing full well what the results of that are going to be, for us to not support that and demand justice as we go through it, we have to start as a world making decisions that are based upon right and wrong. Period,” he added.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].