IOC president vows to support Peng Shuai over sexual harassment allegations

  • Bach and Peng set for face-to-face meeting in coming days
  • ‘We are trying to find out if she wants to have the inquiry’

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has promised to support tennis player Peng Shuai if she calls for an investigation into her sexual harassment allegations.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Bach also revealed that Peng would enter the closed-loop system at the Games – which requires a series of negative PCR tests – for a face-to-face meeting with him in the coming days.

“We will have the meeting,” said Bach. “I am very happy and very grateful to Peng Shuai. She will enter the closed loop to have the meeting that she also wants. Once the Covid procedures have finished we will have that meeting.”

Concerns have persisted for Peng ever since the former women’s No 1 doubles player alleged that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past. After that post, she was absent from public view for nearly three weeks.

The IOC then set up a call with Peng to establish she was safe. Later in December she then claimed that she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her, adding that a social media post she had made had been misunderstood. Zhang has not commented on the matter.

Bach said that a face-to-face meeting was a logical next step to establish whether what Peng was saying via a teleconference was repeated in real life. He added: “It’s not only a sign of respect but a necessity to respect her and listen to her and how she sees the situation, how she wants to live her life.”

“We are step by step trying to find out if she wants to have the inquiry,” he said. “Of course we would also support her in this, but it must be her decision. It’s her life, it’s her allegations.

“We have heard the allegations, we have heard the withdrawal. We will have this personal meeting and continue this conversation. And then we will know better also about her physical integrity, her mental state, when we can finally meet in person.”

  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for 'The Guardian'.
  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.
  • In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
  • Turn on sport notifications.

Many believe that Peng is being restricted by the Chinese government and is unable to speak freely. However, Bach said he didn’t believe that was the case.

“We know from her explanations during the video conferences that she is living here in Beijing,” he said. “She is reporting that she can move freely, that she is spending time with her family and friends, And now we will be able to do the next step in a personal meeting to convince us in person of her well being and her state of mind.”


Sean Ingle in Beijing

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Olympic official rejects Peng Shuai video call criticism as ‘silly’
Dick Pound defends IOC saying it was able to reach missing Chinese tennis star while others could not

Helen Davidson and Vincent Ni

30, Nov, 2021 @12:27 PM

Article image
Peng Shuai retracts sexual assault claims as fears over wellbeing persist
Claim contradicts Chinese tennis player’s social media post in which she accused senior party figure of coercing her into sex

Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

19, Dec, 2021 @2:58 PM

Article image
China condemns ‘malicious hyping’ over Peng Shuai
Foreign ministry takes unrepentant stance to concerns in west over wellbeing of tennis player

Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

23, Nov, 2021 @10:40 AM

Article image
China hits back at WTA as IOC says it has spoken again to Peng Shuai
ATP and ITF steer clear of the subject of future events in a market worth billions of dollars

Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

02, Dec, 2021 @6:42 PM

Article image
Peng Shuai says Weibo post sparked ‘enormous misunderstanding’
Tennis player gave interview to L’Équipe on sidelines of Beijing Olympics, accompanied by Chinese official

Helen Davidson in Taipei

07, Feb, 2022 @3:54 PM

Article image
Naomi Osaka expresses ‘shock’ over missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai
Former world No 1 joins other athletes in voicing concern for Peng, who has not been seen since accusing ex-vice-premier of sexual assault

Helen Davidson in Taipei

17, Nov, 2021 @5:46 AM

Article image
China must answer serious questions about tennis star Peng Shuai, Australia says
Human rights activists step up calls for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Daniel Hurst

22, Nov, 2021 @9:57 PM

Article image
WTA’s hardline approach to Peng Shuai presents China with new problem
Analysis: Up to now sports associations have rapidly backed down from rows with Beijing

Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

19, Nov, 2021 @3:10 PM

Article image
Australian Open reverses its ban on ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ T-shirts
Tennis Australia has bowed to pressure and made a U-turn on its decision to ban T-shirts displaying messages of support for Peng Shuai

Emma Kemp at Melbourne Park

25, Jan, 2022 @2:43 AM

Article image
Tennis’s support for Peng Shuai has turned to dust with WTA’s China U-turn | Tumaini Carayol
The power of money has won out again as the game’s ruling body has decided to depart from its previous principled approach

Tumaini Carayol

13, Apr, 2023 @6:43 PM