Peng Shuai appears at Olympics and gives a controlled interview

BEIJING (AP), -- There is nothing to see, so move on.

Peng Shuai appears at Olympics and gives a controlled interview

BEIJING (AP), -- There is nothing to see, so move on.

This was Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player. She spoke in Beijing in a controlled interview. It covered sexual assault allegations she made against an ex-high-ranking member China's ruling Communist Party. The answers she gave to a Chinese Olympic official left no questions unanswered about her health and what actually happened.

L'Equipe, a French sports newspaper, interviewed Peng and announced that Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee met Peng for dinner. This seemed to be an attempt to calm international concerns over Peng. Peng was a three-time Olympian and former number one tennis player. #1 tennis doubles player. Peng's safety has been a concern that threatens to overshadow the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Peng said that his concerns stemmed from "an enormous misunderstanding." However, the interview format seemed to restrict follow-ups on the allegations and the aftermath. L'Equipe stated that it had submitted questions in advance as a condition for the interview but was also allowed to ask other questions that were not planned. According to the newspaper, a Chinese Olympic committee official was present at the meeting and translated Peng's comments into Chinese. According to the newspaper, it said that the interview was also conducted in French by an interpreter from Paris. The large part of the interview, which took place in Beijing on Sunday, was focused on Peng's playing career. Peng, 36 years old, said that she could not imagine a return to professional tour-level tennis after multiple knee surgeries. Since February 2020, Peng has not played on the women’s tour.

In question-and-answer format, the newspaper published Peng's comments verbatim. Peng was photographed wearing a red tracksuit with Chinese characters at the front.

L'Equipe questioned Peng about the November sexual assault allegations. These allegations were quickly removed from Peng's verified account on Weibo, a major Chinese social media platform. After a time, she was removed from public view. This led to many "where's Peng Shuai?" queries online from fans and players outside China. It was partly due to China's history of disappearing leaders.

Peng stated in her long post that Zhang Gaoli (an ex-vice premier and member the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party) had forced her to have sexual relations despite her repeated refusals. Peng also stated that they had sex seven years ago and that she developed romantic feelings after that. Zhang has not responded to the allegation.

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She wrote, "Originally, all of this was buried in my heart," "Why would you come to me again? Take me to your home and force me to have sexual relations with you?"

L'Equipe's interview was her first time having a conversation with non-Chinese media since the accusation. She returned to the original post.

"Sexual assault? "Sexual assault": She said she never claimed that anyone forced her to undergo sex.

She also stated that "This post caused an enormous misunderstanding from outside the world." "My wish is for the meaning of this message to not be misunderstood."

When Peng was asked by L'Equipe to explain why the post vanished from her account, she replied: "I erased them."

"Why? She said, "Because I wanted to."

The obvious follow-up question about why she posted was not asked.

Monday was also a day that the IOC worked to calm the situation. According to the IOC, Peng dined with Bach on Saturday after Chinese President Xi Jinping opened Winter Olympics. According to the IOC, Peng was also present at the China-Norway Olympic curling match alongside Kirsty Coventry from Zimbabwe.

Mark Adams, the IOC spokesperson, refused to say whether Peng was speaking free or under duress during his daily Olympic press conference.

He said, "We are a sporting organisation, and our job it is to maintain contact with her and, like we've explained previously, to carry out quiet diplomacy and personal communication, to keep in touch with them, as we have done." "I don’t believe it’s our job to judge in any one way. It’s not your job to judge."

He stated that the IOC could not pass judgment on whether or not there should be an investigation into her initial allegations.

He said, "I believe we can say we are doing all we can to ensure that this situation is as it should."

Peng didn't answer directly to L'Equipe's question about whether she had been in trouble since her appointment. Instead, Peng responded with a pat-sounding response that echoed the views of the Chinese government regarding sport and politics.

According to the newspaper, she stated that "I was to first of all say that emotions and sport are clearly distinct things." "My private and romantic life should not be mixed up with politics and sport."

When asked about her life since November's posting, she said that it was "just as it should be: Nothing extraordinary."

Peng thanked other players for their concerns. These included Serena Williams (23-time Grand Slam champion), who tweeted "we cannot remain silent" in November, and demanded an investigation.

Peng expressed his astonishment.

She asked, "I would love to know: Why is there so much worry?" "I never disappeared. It was simply that so many people, including my friends, and those from the IOC, had sent me messages, and it was impossible to reply to all of them.

Peng was feared to be unsafe and the women's professional tennis tour in China has suspended all WTA tournaments. Peng said that Peng received emails and a text message from a WTA mental healthcare counselling unit.

She said, "That was very unfamiliar for me." "Why would I need that kind of psychological help?"

Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman, released a statement stating that although "it's always nice to see Peng Shuai" (either in an interview or at the Olympic Games), this interaction with L'Equipe does not address any of her concerns about her original post.

Simon demanded "a formal investigation by appropriate authorities" and that Peng be given the opportunity to meet privately with the WTA to discuss her situation.

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