Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai resurfaced Monday in an interview with French sports newspaper L’Equipe, saying there has been a “enormous misunderstanding” surrounding a publication in which she denounced a senior Chinese regime official for forcing her to have sex with him.
Peng’s denunciation was in November 2021 on a Chinese social network called Weibo, but soon after publication was deleted and the 36-year-old tennis player, disappeared from public life for weeks, prompting a major international campaign calling on Chinese authorities to confirm that she was safe and sound.
As reported by the Associated Press, Peng’s statements to the newspaper were notoriously controlled, with questions and answers lacking depth regarding clarification of the explosive abuse allegation.
In addition, the interview was conducted under the supervision of a Chinese Olympic Committee official who acted as a translator of the tennis player’s answers.
According to the agency, the newspaper published both the questions and the answers verbatim, as it was one of the agreements made before the interview took place.
When L’Equipe asked Peng about the sexual assault allegations she had made in November, the tennis player simply said it was a “misunderstanding.”
“Sexual assault? I never said that anyone made me submit to a sexual assault,” Peng. “This post resulted in an enormous misunderstanding from the outside world,” she also added as quoted by the newspaper. “My wish is that the meaning of this post no longer be skewed.”
As to why the post had been quickly deleted from the social network, the Chinese tennis player bluntly told L’Equipe: “I deleted it. Why? Because I wanted to,” she added.
However Peng evaded the question on whether she had had any pressure or retaliation from the Chinese communist regime, instead saying:
“I was to say first of all that emotions, sport and politics are three clearly separate things,” Peng said. “My romantic problems, my private life, should not be mixed with sport and politics.”
These statements were not convincing, and given the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) usual moves to silence people who might expose the corrupt nature of its members to the international community, it is to be expected that the tennis player’s answers were made under pressure.
To ‘dispel’ worldwide condemnation and the possibility of losing a lucrative business like tennis tournaments, even to avoid the possibility of a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, the CCP used its propaganda means to show that Peng was alive, well and happy.
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) further confirmed that its president met over the weekend with Peng for dinner at the Olympic Club in Beijing and the meeting was also attended by Kirsty Coventry, the former chair of the Athletes’ Commission and IOC member.
“During the dinner, the three spoke about their common experience as athletes at the Olympic Games, and Peng Shuai spoke of her disappointment at not being able to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the IOC says on its official website.
The IOC has received harsh criticism from international human rights groups for its handling of the situation, with critics accusing it of supporting the Chinese government’s efforts to silence Peng and expressing concern over whether the athlete was free to speak to IOC officials while in China.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in his daily briefing that as a sports organization “our job is to remain in contact with her and, as we’ve explained in the past, to carry out personal and quiet diplomacy, to keep in touch with her, as we’ve done.”
He added: “I don’t think it’s for us to be able to to judge, in one way, just as it’s not for you to judge either,” without giving an opinion on whether an investigation should be made into the tennis player’s complaint against the CCP official.
Following the tennis player’s disappearance, several well-known sports personalities, including Serena Williams, Novac Djokovic and Andy Murray, and international organizations, such as the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), who feared for her safety, publicly expressed concern for her safety.
The WTA even threatened the communist regime to withdraw tennis tournaments from China if Peng Shuai was not found alive.