As one of China’s most well-known sports stars, Peng publicly accused Zhang Gaoli, a former senior CCP official and deputy prime minister, in a social media post dated November 2 for forcing her to have sex at home three years ago.
Peng was immediately suppressed by a comprehensive review and disappeared from public view for more than two weeks.
The International Olympic Committee said it had already conducted two phone calls with Peng.
According to the Olympic Organizing Committee, its chairman Thomas Bach had a 30-minute video call with three-time Olympic athlete Peng, a Chinese sports official and an additional IOC representative on November 21.
On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee had a second call with Peng and stated that the Chinese tennis star “reconfirmed” that she is safe given the “difficult situation” she is in.
“The purpose remains the same: either attack her-or himself-or counter international criticism.”
When CNN asked Darling about his open letter, the International Olympic Committee did not immediately comment.
The IOC defended itself
The International Olympic Committee told CNN that it did not provide any visual assets for the second video call with Peng on Wednesday due to growing doubts about the degree of freedom she was allowed to communicate and concerns about her safety.
Dick Pound, a longtime member of the International Olympic Committee, recently told CNN’s Christian Amanpur that he was “confused” by Peng and Bach’s response to the November video call.
He said: “Basically, many people around the world are looking for Peng Shuai’s whereabouts, but no one can establish contact.”
“Only the International Olympic Committee can do this and have a conversation with Thomas Bach through video. He is an older Olympian and two young female IOC members. No one posted the video because I Guess the content in this area is private.
“They found that she was in good health and in good spirits. They did not see any evidence of imprisonment or similar conditions.”
Pound added that he did not see the recording of the video call, but “only relied on the comprehensive judgment of the three IOC members who participated in the call.”
WTA takes a hard line
“Peng is not free. You know-or should know-that she is not free,” Darling added.
“In every development of international criticism, like clockwork, Peng either appeared magically or someone provided something that claimed to be from her to counter this criticism.”
Darling accused the International Olympic Committee of allowing itself to be used by the Chinese government and urged it to follow in the footsteps of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which announced the immediate suspension of all events in China, including Hong Kong, in response to Beijing’s request. Silence of sexual assault allegations.
On Thursday, a WTA spokesperson told CNN that it had received a new email from Peng.
According to WTA, this is the third email it has received from Peng.
Shen Shiwei, a journalist affiliated with the Chinese state media, quoted “confirmed sources” on Twitter on Thursday, saying that the email from Shuai “expressed her shock at the WTA’s unfair decision to suspend all events in China.”
In response to this latest email, a WTA spokesperson stated that the organization supports the decision to suspend the event in China.
In a statement on Thursday, the International Olympic Committee expressed confidence in its methods and handling.
The statement read: “We are using’silent diplomacy’, which is considered to be the most promising way to effectively handle such humanitarian affairs in light of the circumstances at the time and the experience of governments and other organizations.”
However, Darling has urged the International Olympic Committee to change its position and said that “quiet diplomacy may have a place, but it is not here.”
He added: “And you obviously don’t believe it yourself, because if you believe, why do you hype these video calls with Peng-especially if you refuse to release them. Maybe someone tells you that you can’t release them?
“At least educate yourself on the issues of enforced disappearance and stage management confession and appearances.”
The Chinese authorities have not yet acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang, and there is no indication that an investigation is ongoing.
Since his retirement in 2018, Zhang has kept a low profile and faded out of public view. There is no public information about his whereabouts.
Before stepping down as deputy prime minister, Zhang was the head of the Chinese government working group for the Beijing Olympics. During this period, he inspected the stadiums, visited the athletes, unveiled the official emblem, and held meetings to coordinate preparations.
Zhang has met with IOC President Bach at least once before, and the two were photographed shaking hands together in the Chinese capital in 2016.
It is not clear whether Peng has reported her allegations to the police.
In a press conference on Thursday, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to questions about the withdrawal of the WTA, “China has always firmly opposed any politicization of sports.”
CNN’s Amy Woodyatt, Steve George and Nectar Gan reported.
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