Peng Shuai calls global concern over abuse allegation a ‘huge misunderstanding’

PENG SHUAI described reports that she accused a senior Chinese official of sexual assault as a “huge misunderstanding” as she repeated her denial that the alleged incident ever took place.

The former doubles world number one said in a social media post in November that she was forced to have sex with former vice premier Zhang Gaoli. His post was quickly deleted and his silence raised fears for his safety.

In an interview published Monday with the French newspaper L’Equipe, during which she was accompanied by Chinese Olympic Committee chief of staff Wang Kan who translated her answers, Peng insisted that she was not at the stream of global concern.

The interview was released alongside a statement from the International Olympic Committee, which confirmed that Peng had dinner on Saturday with its chairman Thomas Bach and former IOC Athletes’ Commission chairwoman Kirsty Coventry.

In the interview with L’Equipe, Peng said, “I never said that anyone sexually assaulted me in any way.

“There has been a huge misunderstanding in the outside world as a result of this post. I don’t want the meaning of this post to be twisted any more. And I don’t want any more hype around it.

“I never disappeared. Everyone could see me. I never disappeared. It’s just that a lot of people, like my friends or people from the IOC messaged me, and it was just impossible to reply to so many messages. But I have always been in close contact with my close friends.

Peng’s predicament sparked a global call for transparency led by the Women’s Tennis Association, which in December announced the suspension of all tournaments in China over its dissatisfaction with the response to Chinese authorities’ allegations.

Bach was criticized for steering the IOC towards a less confrontational approach, instead pursuing a meeting with Peng, the details of which the organization said would only be released at Peng’s discretion.

Peng attended Monday’s mixed curling match between China and Norway and, according to the IOC, has declared his intention to attend more events at the Winter Olympics over the next two weeks. She also accepted an invitation to visit the IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

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The IOC said: “Over dinner, the three talked about their common experience as athletes at the Olympic Games, and Peng Shuai expressed his disappointment at not being able to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. .

“In this context, she also announced her intention to travel to Europe once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, and the IOC President invited her to Lausanne to visit the IOC and the Olympic Museum, in order to continue the conversation about their Olympic experiences. Peng Shuai accepted this invitation.

Teresa H. Sadler