The IOC gives a miserable picture in this case

IOC President Thomas Bach on video call with tennis player Peng Shuai

A 30-minute phone call was enough for the IOC to claim Peng was fine.

(Photo: via REUTERS)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) only needed 30 minutes of video conversation to convince itself that the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai is “doing well”. This is astonishing given that there are many inconsistencies in the case of the star athlete who has disappeared and that the Chinese government is known for blackmailing statements from Chinese citizens.

In early November, Peng made serious allegations in a post on the Twitter-like Chinese social network Weibo against the former Chinese deputy prime minister and confidante of China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping, Zhang Gaoli: Zhang is said to have sexually abused Peng. Just minutes after the 35-year-old posted the post, it was deleted. We haven’t heard from her since then. Until this weekend.

On Sunday evening, the IOC published a brief article about the fact that IOC boss Thomas Bach and the chairman of the IOC athletes’ commission, Emma Terho, had a 30-minute video conversation with Peng. Chinese state media had previously distributed several allegedly up-to-date video recordings of Peng, which are said to show her in good shape. Peng is fine, she seemed to be “relaxed”, Terho said after the conversation.

A 30-minute phone call is not enough

It is a scandal that she and IOC boss Thomas Bach give themselves up as key witnesses for the fact that Peng Shuai is in the best of shape, based solely on a 30-minute conversation. Because in the Peng case, it’s not just about the fact that she is still alive. It’s about how she will be treated, whether she can move about freely or be detained, whether she is banned from speaking openly about her allegations against Zhang – and whether they will be taken seriously and investigated against the high-ranking politician.

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In view of this, the IOC has not even published the video of the conversation – so it is not even clear whether these topics were even addressed – but it is still not a shame to claim that Peng is “fine”, is dubious and untrustworthy. Human rights organizations repeatedly complain that critics of the Chinese government or its former and active members are regularly forced to make public apologies or other statements.

Even for experts, it should be impossible to verify whether Peng made the statements in conversation with Bach and Terho only under pressure. With its statement, the IOC is making itself into Beijing’s hand camp.

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