WTA still ‘concerned’ about Peng’s ability to speak freely

Steve Simon, head of the WTA, said he remains “deeply concerned” about the whereabouts of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai and her ability to “communicate freely, openly and directly” after the incidents. Allegedly that a powerful politician forced her to have sex.

Peng, a three-time former track and field athlete and former top-ranked doubles athlete, has abandoned public view after accusing former deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli of sexual abuse during his career. a November 2 post on the Chinese Internet, and was quickly taken down by the Chinese. the authorities.

“Steve Simon has been in contact with Peng Shuai through various communication channels,” the WTA said in a statement on Saturday.

“He sent her two emails in which it was clear that her response had been influenced by others. He remains deeply concerned that Peng was not censored or coerced and decided not to. re-engage via email until he is satisfied her response is her own, not those of her moderators.WTA remains concerned about its ability to communicate freely , her openness and directness.”

A week ago, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he spoke with Peng on a video call. The IOC did not release any transcripts and only said that Bach reported she was fine.

The IOC released a screenshot of Bach talking to Peng via a video screenshot.

The IOC said in a statement that Peng appeared to be “doing well” and said she had asked for privacy. The IOC did not explain how the call was arranged, although it has been working closely with the Chinese Olympic Committee and government officials to organize the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics opening on April 4. February.

Critics argue that Peng would not have called the IOC if she was indeed free to speak.

Human Rights Watch criticized the IOC for working with China’s propaganda department to arrange talks with Peng. The IOC has not previously interfered with other human rights issues related to the Beijing Winter Olympics, declaring the organization to be neutral.

Yaqui Wang, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said: “The IOC has been trying to go from being silent about Beijing’s poor human rights record to actively cooperating with the Chinese regime in undermining human rights. freedom of expression and disregard for allegations of sexual assault”.

Simon has threatened to pull WTA events out of China unless he gets a clear answer and guarantees that Peng is free to speak. It is the first sports body to go public against China, which provides a vital source of income for other sports bodies such as the IOC and NBA.

The whereabouts of Zhang, 75, the man charged by Peng, has yet to be reported. He has not spoken publicly about the incident. He left the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee about three years ago.

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