Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai denies making accusation of sexual assault
BEIJING (REUTERS) - Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai told French newspaper L'Equipe in an interview that she never accused anyone of sexual assault, and that she had deleted her social media post in November that had appeared to make such a claim.
The well-being of Peng, a three-time Olympian, became a matter of concern in November when she appeared to allege on social media that a former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her in the past.
In an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe at a hotel in Beijing, Peng said: “I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way.”
Peng’s social media post, deleted quickly after going online, led the Women’s Tennis Association to suspend tournaments in China and caused an international outcry about her safety.
A source at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed Peng had met with president Thomas Bach for dinner on Saturday inside the Winter Olympics bubble in Beijing. The IOC will issue a statement on Peng later on Monday, the source told Reuters.
Peng said in December she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and that the post she made had been misunderstood. Mr Zhang has not commented on the matter.
Ahead of the Beijing Games, the IOC held several video calls with her and had announced a face-to-face meeting during the Feb 4-20 Games.
It was not clear whether IOC President Thomas Bach would meet with Peng in one of the competition venues or somewhere else in Beijing.
"We wouldn't be giving a schedule where and if she may or may not be watching (sports). We don't think it is ideal to be discussed at that level."
"When we have information we feel we are able to share we will do so," Mr Adams said The IOC has also said it would support her if she wanted her allegations to be investigated.
Despite these contacts and a handful of videos from Peng, international concerns over her safety and well-being have not been allayed and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has suspended tournaments in China. China has not directly commented on Peng's initial post but said after the WTA's move that it "opposes the politicisation of sports".