IOC defends ‘silent diplomacy’ in Peng Shuai case – Boston News, Weather, Sports


(CNN) – The International Olympic Committee has defended its handling of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s disappearance from public life as “quiet diplomacy”, amid criticism of his approach.

“Everyone should focus on the welfare of Peng Shuai and not try to use it for other purposes,” Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC member and chairman of the Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission, said during of a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

“Remember silent diplomacy, it is a very powerful tool and we plan to stick to it,” he added.

Concerns were expressed about Peng’s safety after the sports star publicly accused a former senior Communist Party official, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, of forcing her to have sex at his home there. three years ago in a social media post deleted on November 2.

One of China’s most recognizable athletes, Peng was immediately suffocated by general censorship and disappeared from public view for more than two weeks.

In response, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced it would suspend all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.

The IOC took a different approach, issuing a statement on Nov. 21 saying Peng appeared to be “doing well” and was “relaxed” during a video call with its president Thomas Bach, but did not make the video accessible to the public. .

Human Rights Watch China director Sophie Richardson has denounced the IOC as helping orchestrate Peng’s reappearance with Chinese authorities. WTA chief Steve Simon also said the IOC’s intervention was insufficient to allay concerns about Peng’s safety.

On Tuesday, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told reporters the organization had two calls with Peng and agreed to meet with her in person in China. The organization has “a full roadmap to at least try to keep in touch and see where it is,” he also said.

When asked by reporters why she hadn’t spoken to anyone in the tennis community or friends, Adams replied, “I really don’t know.”

“Clearly, in these personal situations, it’s not up to me,” he added. “Even if I knew it, it wouldn’t be my place to give that answer in a public appearance like this at a press conference.”

Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang – who has disappeared from public life since his retirement in 2018 – and there is no indication that an investigation is ongoing. It is still unclear whether Peng reported his allegations to the police.

Late last month, China’s Foreign Ministry said the government hoped “malicious speculation” about Peng’s welfare and his whereabouts would cease, adding that his case should not be politicized.

The Beijing Games continue

With just under two months until the Beijing Winter Olympics kick off, Samaranch was also adamant that the newly discovered variant of the Omicron coronavirus would not derail its opening.

“We have learned over the past three years that in a Covid world, we have to be flexible and you have to be able to adapt quickly to changing conditions,” Samaranch said. He added that the Beijing organizers “have prepared for any possible eventuality … The system can cope with almost anything that may happen in the world about and around Covid”.

The IOC said it had not yet decided whether there would be tickets for domestic spectators for the games.

As for the United States’ decision to diplomatically boycott the Beijing 2022 Olympics, Adams said, this is a “political decision” and the purpose of the Games is to “bring the world together.”

As part of the boycott, the United States will not send an official American delegation to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing as a declaration against “the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

However, American athletes will still be allowed to participate in the Games.

“It’s a political decision that we respect their right to make that decision,” Adams said. “But what it also shows is that they respect the athlete’s right to participate in the Olympics and I think that is very important.”

The Beijing Games are due to take place February 4-20 next year.

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