Home LATEST NEWS New video interview between Peng Shuai and the IOC, which defends its...

New video interview between Peng Shuai and the IOC, which defends its “human approach”

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We share the same concern as many other people and organizations about the well-being and safety of Peng Shuai., corn we have opted for a very human and person-centered approach, pleads in a press release the Olympic body, which did not make public recording or image of this interview.

If his boss Thomas Bach had obtained 10 days ago the first contact of a foreign interlocutor with the player, it is an IOC team who led this second videoconference half an hour, during which the player appeared to be safe and doing well, given the difficult situation she is in.

We have offered her a very broad support, we will stay in constant contact with her, and have already set a personal meeting in January., considered during the first interview with Thomas Bach, specifies the organization based in Lausanne.

A man is in a videoconference discussion with a woman

Thomas Bach (from behind) chatting with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, Nov. 21, in a photo released by the International Olympic Committee

Photo: IOC / Greg Martin

As in its previous press releases on the subject, the IOC made no allusion to the accusations of sexual assault made in early November by Peng Shuai against a former Chinese leader, and it did not ask for any clarification on this point. no guarantee on the full freedom of movement of the player.

This discretion, widely perceived as a desire to spare the host of the next Beijing Winter Games (February 4-20), contrasts with the virulent positions taken by many tennis stars and the decision announced Wednesday by the WTA, which manages the women’s tennis circuit, to suspend its tournaments in China.

There are different ways to ensure their well-being and safety. We have taken a very human and person-centered approach to approaching their situation, said the IOC, also denying direct contact with the Chinese authorities. As this is a three-time Games participant, the IOC is addressing these concerns directly with Chinese sports organizations.

We use quiet diplomacy which, given the circumstances and the experience of governments and other organizations, is seen as the most promising way to act effectively in this type of humanitarian affairs., concluded the organization.

Strong reactions

From Billie Jean King to world No.1 Novak Djokovic, several big names in tennis have shown their support for the WTA in his chosen line to demand news from Peng Shuai.

In a rare reaction, ATP, the male equivalent of WTA, called for a direct line of communication between the player and the WTA, while rejecting the idea of ​​boycotting China.

A worldwide presence gives a better chance of achieving results, assured ATP president Andrea Gaudenzi.

Peng’s accusations must be dealt with, underlined in a press release sent to AFP the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which will continue to support efforts in this direction, both publicly and behind the scenes.

In response to the WTA’s decision, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, on Thursday denounced a politicization of sport. The Chinese Tennis Association, the state body responsible for the sport in China, has expressed its indignation, according to a tweet published on Thursday by the official Chinese daily Global Times.

The WTA took this initiative because, according to its president Steve Simon, serious doubts persistent as to the freedom of movement of the 35-year-old player, winner at Wimbledon and Roland-Garros in doubles. In a virulent statement, he announced on Wednesday evening immediate suspension from all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.

A firmness hailed by many stars. For Billie Jean King, winner of 12 grand slam tournaments, the WTA is on the right side of history.

I fully support the position of the WTA because we don’t have enough information on Peng Shuai, said Novak Djokovic.

Legendary Martina Navratilova greeted a courageous position which does put principles before dollars.

The withdrawal decided by the WTA could eventually cost the organization millions of dollars, as China is one of its biggest markets.

Former world first racquet Andy Roddick highlighted the risk he said Steve Simon took. Acting well is much easier when it costs nothing. Respect, he said.

The Asian country, however, has not hosted any WTA tournaments recently due to COVID-19 and is unlikely to have hosted any in the near future.

During the 2019 season, the last to not have been affected by the pandemic, 10 tournaments were organized in China, including the WTA finals.

I hope world leaders will continue to stand up for justice for Peng and all women, regardless of the financial consequences., pointed out Steve Simon.

Steve Simon, President of the WTA

Steve Simon, President of the WTA

Photo: Getty Images / Matthew Stockman

At the beginning of November, in a message published on the Chinese social network Weibo, which had quickly disappeared, Peng Shuai had notably accused the former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, married and 40 years his senior, of having forced her into a sexual relationship.

Many stars of world tennis, from Chris Evert to Naomi Osaka, several Western countries such as France and the United States, but also the European Union and the UN, have already asked Beijing to clarify the fate of Peng Shuai.

The young woman reappeared on November 21 in a restaurant in Beijing and during a tennis tournament in the Chinese capital, according to videos published by journalists from official media.

She also said during a video conference with IOC President Thomas Bach that she was safe and sound at his home in Beijing, but that she would like his privacy to be respected.

It was not enough for Steve Simon. None of this is acceptable and never will be. If the powerful can suppress women’s voices and sweep accusations of sexual abuse under the rug, then the foundation upon which the WTA is built – equality for women – would be greatly shaken., he said.

The WTA’s decision is the subject of intense censorship on social media. The vast majority of Chinese are therefore unaware of the excitement surrounding Peng Shuai.

Some Chinese Internet users, aware of the information, however, published Thursday comments, sometimes laudatory, sometimes hostile, on the official Weibo account of the WTA.

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