Outcry Over Missing Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai Grows
Three-time Olympian and a two-time Grand Slam champion Peng Shuai has gone missing after accusing the former Chinese vice premier of sexual assault on social media before it was censored and she disappeared.
The crisis over the whereabouts of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, which has sparked a global outcry, “may spin out of control” and push the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into taking a harder line with Beijing, an Olympics official warned.
Peng, 35, a three-time Olympian and a two-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, has not been seen in public for more than two weeks, after she accused a former vice premier in an online post of sexually assaulting her about three years ago. Her post, and discussion of it, was quickly censored on Chinese social media.
Star athletes such as Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have demanded information on her, while the United Nations’ human rights office has called for proof of Peng’s safety.
If there is no proper investigation into Peng’s sexual assault allegations, the Women’s Tennis Association is willing to pull tournaments out of China, potentially losing hundreds of millions of dollars, its chairman said on Thursday.
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is missing. Here is what you need to know.
The IOC has not indicated that it intends to make a similar move with the 2022 Beijing Olympics, which could jeopardize billions of dollars from one of the world’s biggest sports events. The IOC press office said Thursday that “quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution.”
The IOC Athletes’ Commission expressed support for the quiet diplomacy approach.
“Together with the worldwide athlete community, the IOC AC is very concerned about the situation of three-time Olympian Peng Shuai,” The IOC Athletes’ Commission said in a statement. “We support the quiet diplomacy approach that is being taken and hope it will lead to the release of information about the whereabouts of Peng Shuai and confirmation of her safety and well-being. We also hope that a way can be found for direct engagement between her and her athlete colleagues.”
Senior IOC member Dick Pound told Reuters on Friday, however, that the Olympics committee was following the case and that “if that’s not resolved in a sensible way very soon it may spin out of control.”
“Whether that escalates to a cessation of the Olympic Games I doubt it. But you never know.”