Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared after she made sexual allegations against Zhang Gaoli, a former vice-premier in China, and several international tennis players have been raising speaking out in support of Peng.
New Delhi: China's grand preparation to host the 2022 Winter Olympics has hit a roadblock. But, the International Olympic Committee is still backing Beijing. The row relates to the 'disappearance' of three-time Olympian and tennis star Peng Shuai.
Her 'missing' coincides with a serious allegation of sexual assault she made against a top gun in the Chinese Communist Party.
She reportedly accused Zhang Gaoli, 75, a former vice-premier in China, of inviting her to his home about three years ago and coercing her into sex.
"That afternoon, I didn't consent at first…. I was crying the entire time."
Now, she has been 'silenced' or forced to make a censored and guarded statement, and it is "frightening" to many that the authorities in China are not doing much against the perpetrators or wrongdoers who have possibly kidnapped the tennis star.
The Women's Tennis Association and Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis Club have expressed concern. But the International Olympic Committee is singing a different tune. Of course, it has earlier granted the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing despite China's appalling human rights record.
Peng, 35, 'disappeared' from the public eye after sexual assault allegations against a senior minister.
An IOC statement, however, on Monday said – Peng appeared to be safe and well. But not many people are buying the line.
But the World Tennis Association said the recent videos "don't alleviate or address the WTA's concern about her wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion", reported BBC.
But scepticism thrives.
In the last few days, purported emails have been 'leaked' claiming Peng wrote them and that she was fine. But most of these look scripted and unreal.
The sporting rights organisation, Global Athlete, criticised the IOC's "nonchalant" approach to Peng's disappearance.
IOC is now accused of displaying "an abhorrent indifference to sexual violence and the wellbeing of female athletes".
"The release from IOC pretends that Peng never made sexual assault allegations and has not been missing for more than two weeks. The statements make the IOC complicit in the Chinese authority's malicious propaganda and lack of care for basic human rights and justice," Global Athlete has said.
A debate has been kicked off whether China should be allowed to host the Olympics in 2022.
Spanish soccer star Gerard Piqué posted a tweet with the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
Tennis luminaries including Naomi Osaka, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Billie Jean King have been speaking out to support Peng.
For records so far, the Joe Biden administration and United Nations human rights office have joined the calls for Beijing to provide 'proof' of Ms Peng's wellbeing, said 'The New York Times'.