Peng Shuai: IOC member Dick Pound was “confused” by the tennis player’s reaction to the video call

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According to a screenshot of a social media post that was deleted on November 2, Peng, one of China’s most well-known sports stars, publicly accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex at home and then made a video call.
After being accused, Peng disappeared from public view, which prompted several tennis players to use the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai on social media to express their concerns.

The International Olympic Committee did not make the video public, nor did it explain how the call was organized. Instead, it released a photo of the call and a statement stating that Peng was “safe and healthy, living in her home in Beijing, but at this time her privacy hopes to be respected.”

Earlier this week, Sophie Richardson, Director of Human Rights Watch China, condemned the role played by the International Olympic Committee in cooperating with the Chinese authorities on Peng’s re-appearance, and the President of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Steve Simon said that the intervention of the International Olympic Committee is not enough to eliminate concerns about Peng’s safety.

“I must say that I am very confused by this assessment,” Pound told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in response to criticism.

“Basically, many people around the world want to know the whereabouts of Peng Shuai, 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 of me. 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.”

Since being accused of sexual coercion, Peng has never appeared directly in front of the public.

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 participating in the call.”

A Chinese sports official who served as the party secretary of the China Tennis Management Center also joined Peng’s call.

Pound also denied that there is any potential conflict of interest between the International Olympic Committee and the Chinese government and the Beijing Winter Olympics scheduled to begin in February.

“We have no real connection with the Chinese government,” Pound said.

“We are very careful to divide the organization of the Olympics. These are not government games. These are the IOC games, and there is an organizing committee responsible.”

WTA and UN call for a full investigation Into her allegations of sexual assault.

According to screenshots of social media posts that were deleted on November 2, Peng publicly accused Zhang Gaoli, the former deputy prime minister of China, of forcing her to have sex at home.

“The first thing you have to do is figure out what she wants to accomplish with this post,” Pound said of Peng’s deleted social media post.

“Just to tell her story, or does she want to investigate and [drop] If she can establish coercion, what will be the consequences? “

Last weekend, several people connected with China’s official media and sports system posted photos and videos on Twitter. They said that Peng went out for dinner on Saturday and held a tennis match for teenagers in Beijing on Sunday.

Throughout the video, Peng rarely speaks, but he can be seen smiling. CNN was unable to independently verify the video clip or confirm its shooting time.

In this photo from the Chinese state media, Peng is said to be seen during a youth tennis match in Beijing on Sunday.  CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of this image or the date it was taken.
On Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the government wanted to stop “malicious speculation” about Peng’s happiness and whereabouts, adding that her case should not be politicized.

The Chinese authorities have not yet acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang, and there is no indication that an investigation is ongoing. It is not clear whether Peng has reported her allegations to the police.

Who is Zhang Gaoli?Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s #MeToo accuses the central figure

At a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reiterated that Peng’s allegations were not a diplomatic issue and declined to comment further. CNN has contacted the State Council Information Office of China, which is responsible for handling news inquiries from the central government.

Since Zhang retired in 2018, he has kept a low profile and faded out of public view. There is no public information about his current whereabouts.

Before stepping down as deputy prime minister, Zhang was the head of the Beijing Olympics Working Group of the Chinese government. During this period, he inspected the construction site of the stadium, visited the athletes, unveiled the official emblem, and held a meeting to coordinate the preparatory work.

Zhang met at least once with IOC President Bach, who had a video call with Peng, and the two took a group photo in the Chinese capital in 2016.

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