IOC would back Peng Shuai inquiry if she wants one: Bach

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 03 2022 08:56 PM

The IOC would support an inquiry into the allegation of sexual assault made by Peng Shuai against a top-ranking Chinese politician -- if she calls for one, its president Thomas Bach said Thursday.

Speaking on the eve of the Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony, Bach confirmed he would meet the tennis star while he is in the Chinese capital and said he hoped to find out more about her "physical integrity and her mental state".

Peng, a former Grand Slam champion doubles player, was not heard from for nearly three weeks after alleging that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her into sex.

She reappeared in public and conducted a video call in November with International Olympic Committee president Bach.

In December she denied ever making the allegation but it remains unclear how free and safe the three-time Olympian really is.

Bach told a press conference in Beijing: "It is not only a sign of respect, it is a necessity, to respect her, to listen to her and how she sees the situation, how she wants to live her life.

"This is what step by step we are trying to find out.

"If she wants to have an inquiry, 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 had the allegations and we have heard the withdrawal.

"We will have this personal meeting and there we will continue this conversation and then we will know better also about her physical integrity and her mental state when we can finally meet in person."

In a post on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform in November, Peng alleged that Zhang, who is in his 70s, had coerced her into sex during an on-off relationship lasting several years.

The post was quickly removed from the Chinese web, but not before screenshots were posted on Twitter, setting off a global outcry.

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