Sports

Peng Shuai: Human rights activist Peter Dahlin says IOC is putting tennis star at ‘greater risk’

One of China’s most famous sports stars, Peng publicly accused a former top Communist Party official, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, of forcing her into sex at his home three years ago in a since-deleted social media post dated November 2.

Peng was immediately put down by the overall censorship and disappeared from view for over two weeks.

The IOC says it has had two calls with Ping.

According to the Olympic organization, its president, Thomas Bach, made a 30-minute video call with Olympian Peng three times, along with a Chinese sports official and an additional representative of the International Olympic Committee on November 21.

On Wednesday, the IOC made a second call to Peng and said the Chinese tennis star had “reaffirmed” her safety and well-being given the “difficult situation” she was in.

The practice of appearing on stage is often referred to as forced televised confessions, although recently the People’s Republic of China [People’s Republic of China] “Police will often publish such clips on their social media channels or have newspapers publish them on their websites,” Dahlin wrote in an open letter to the IOC on Thursday.

“The goal remains the same: either to attack the person himself – or himself – or to face international criticism.”

The IOC was not immediately available for comment when CNN asked about Dahlin’s open letter.

Dahlin is the director of the non-governmental organization Protecting Human Rights Defenders. The open letter was published in the form of an opinion piece by Dahlin and not Safeguard Defenders, the human rights activist explained.
Read: Women’s tennis suspends all tournaments in China due to concern over Peng Shuai

The International Olympic Committee defends itself

Dahlin said the video call with the International Olympic Committee, which has not been announced, bears similarities to the time he was forced to apologize to the Chinese government on state television in 2016 after China accused him of working for an illegal organization that sponsored activities threatening China. National Security.
Peng Shuai reaffirms & # 39;  Olympic organization says it is fine and well in second call with IOC

The International Olympic Committee told CNN it did not provide any visual assets for Wednesday’s second video call with Peng amid growing doubts about how freely she would be allowed to communicate, as well as concerns for her safety.

Longtime IOC member Dick Pound told CNN reporter Christian Amanpour that he was “puzzled” by the reaction to the video call between Ping and Bach in November.

“Basically, a lot of people around the world were looking forward to see what happened to Peng Shuai and no one was able to establish contact,” he said.

“Only the IOC was able to do this, and there was a video chat with Thomas Bach, an older Olympian, and two younger IOC members. Nobody posted the video because I think this aspect of it was private.

“They found her in good health and in good spirits and they didn’t see any evidence of confinement or anything like that.”

Pound added that he had not seen a recording of the video call, but was “simply relying on the combined judgment of the three IOC members who were involved in the call.”

The WTA takes a strong stand

“Bing isn’t free,” Dallen added. “You know – or you should know – it’s not free.”

“In every development of international criticism, like the clock, Ping has magically appeared or someone has offered something claiming to be on her part to counter such criticism.”

Dahlin accused the IOC of allowing the Chinese government to use it and urged it to follow in the footsteps of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) which announced an immediate suspension of all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, in response to Beijing’s decision. Silencing allegations of sexual assault.

A WTA spokeswoman told CNN Thursday she had received a new email from Bing.

According to the WTA, this is the third email he has received from Peng.

Citing a “confirmed source” in a tweet on Twitter Thursday, Chinese media reporter Shen Xuyi said the email from Shuai “expressed shock at the WTA’s unfair decision to suspend all tournaments in China.”

In response to this latest email, a spokeswoman for the WTA said the organization stood by its decision to suspend tournaments in China.

Read: IOC member Dick Pound ‘confused’ over his reaction to Bing Shuai’s video call
Peng Shuai of China during the women's singles match in 2019.

The IOC said in a statement on Thursday it was confident in its approach and handling of the situation.

“We are using ‘quiet diplomacy’ which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organizations, is indicated as the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters,” the statement read.

However, Dahlin urged the IOC to change its stance and said “quiet diplomacy may have its place, but it is not here.”

And he added, “And you yourself obviously don’t believe that, because if you did, why would you amplify these video calls with Bing – especially since you refuse to release them. Maybe someone will tell you that you can’t release them?”

“At least educate yourself on the issue of enforced disappearances, confessions, and managed appearances.”

Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang, and there is no indication that an investigation is underway.

Zhang has kept a low profile and faded from public life since his retirement in 2018, and there is no public information regarding his current whereabouts.

Before retiring as Vice Premier of the State Council, Zhang was head of a Chinese government working group for the Beijing Games. In turn, he inspected stadiums, visited athletes, unveiled official emblems, and held meetings to coordinate preparations.

Zhang previously met IOC President Bach on at least one occasion, with the two photographed shaking hands in the Chinese capital in 2016.

It remains unclear whether Peng reported her allegations to the police.

At a press conference on Thursday, in response to a question about the WTA’s withdrawal, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “China has always firmly opposed any action that would politicize the sport.”

CNN’s Amy Woodyat, Steve George, and Nectar Gan contributed to this report.

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