Where is Peng Shuai? The question that the CIO is too weak to ask.

Where is Peng Shuai? This is the question that the International Olympic Committee and its chairman, Thomas Bach, should be shouting ab...


Where is Peng Shuai?

This is the question that the International Olympic Committee and its chairman, Thomas Bach, should be shouting about right now – loudly, demanding and squarely targeting the Chinese leaders, who are set to host the Beijing Games in February.

But instead of firm demands, we hear little more than weak, servile whispers from Olympic leaders.

Peng, 35, a Chinese tennis star and three-time Olympian, has been missing since November 2, when she used social media to accuse Zhang Gaoli, 75, former Chinese vice premier, of sexually assaulted her at her home three years ago. She also described having had an intermittent consensual relationship with Zhang.

Peng wrote that the assault happened after Zhang invited her to play tennis at his home. “I was so scared that afternoon,” she noted. “I never gave my consent, crying all the time.”

“I feel like a walking corpse,” she added.

The post was quickly removed from the Chinese government-controlled social media site.

There have been no verifiable signs of Peng since – no videos or photographs to prove that she is safe. Instead, all the outside world saw was a stilted message, allegedly written by Peng and sent to the WTA, in response to his request for an investigation in its allegations. Peng’s supposed answer, released on Wednesday by the Chinese state broadcaster, immediately raised concerns.

“Hello everyone, this is Peng Shuai”, we read, before qualifying as false his accusation of sexual assault, made only a few weeks ago. “I’m not missing, and I’m not safe. I rested at home and everything is fine. Thanks again for caring about me.

It reads like a message from a hostage, a natural concern given the Chinese government’s long history of using force and brutal pressure to crush dissent and flatten those it finds guilty of going against the state. .

So what was the IOC’s response to a potentially endangered Olympian? A sterilized and obsequious statement.

“We have seen the latest reports and are encouraged by the assurances that she is safe,” read an official statement from the IOC on Thursday.

What fantastic world does the IOC live in? Given China’s history, we can reasonably assume that the latest missive allegedly written by Peng is a fraud. Peng dared to speak forcefully and frankly, but not the IOC, a Switzerland-based organization with a history of fear of dictators stretching back to Adolf Hitler and the 1936 Summer Games.

After some criticism, the committee continued with another statement, hinting that its representatives were talking to the Chinese.

“Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution to questions of such a nature,” he said, offering no evidence of previous success. “This explains why the IOC will not comment further at this point.”

Bach and the broad spectrum of IOC leaders generally use every possible opportunity to claim that the Olympic mission represents the highest ideals of humanity. It is said that all Olympic athletes are part of a family. Peng was among those ranks in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Once an Olympian, they say, still an Olympian.

It is an admirable idea, but it is rejected when the stakes get too high.

The Beijing Winter Games are on the horizon, fueled by huge fees for broadcast rights and corporate sponsorships and billions spent by the Chinese government in an effort to earn respect on the international stage.

Do Bach and the IOC have the courage to stand up for one of their own and call out the dictatorial host of his next showcase for a frightening violation of human rights?

The answer, at least so far, is no.

Contrary to the official statement of the IOC, nothing is encouraging in this situation.

Not if you know the long history of Chinese authoritarianism. Not if you know how he hammered dissent and silenced anyone with enough clout to threaten the national order – including cultural figures and businessmen like Jack Ma, founder of the Internet company Alibaba.

Not if you know how China has protest repressed in Hong Kong and Tibet, or if you pay attention to the treatment of Muslim minorities – considered genocide by the United Nations and dozens of countries, including the United States – despite Chinese denials.

As predicted by critics, or anyone looking at it with even a little common sense, the CIO finds itself compromised. That’s the price to pay for getting closer to authoritarian hosts like China, which hosted the 2008 Summer Games, and Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Games.

Compare the typical recklessness of Bach and the IOC with the uncompromising approach taken by the professional women’s tennis circuit, which was not afraid to boldly defend Peng, the former world No. 1 in doubles.

“I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or to believe what is attributed to him,” wrote Steve Simon, general manager of the WTA Tour, in a statement. “Peng Shuai showed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former senior Chinese government official.”

Simon continued, “Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source. His allegation of sexual assault must be respected, investigated transparently and without censorship.

Women’s voices must be heard and respected, not censored or dictated. “

It’s putting people before profit. It’s guts. Professional tennis in China is a lucrative and rapidly growing market. The men’s and women’s circuits organize high-level tournaments there, and the WTA Finals are scheduled for Shenzhen in 2022.

Considering how female tennis players have long led in human rights matters, it is no surprise that Billie Jean King, Serena williams, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova firmly defended Peng. And it’s no surprise that young stars have followed suit, directed by Naomi Osaka, the torchbearer at the Tokyo Games last summer, who added her significant stature to the chorus asking “Where’s Peng Shuai?” “

But Bach and the IOC, peddlers of Olympic mythology, have not yet joined this choir. Peng Shuai is part of the Olympic family, but the IOC overlords lack the backbone to defend one of their own.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Where is Peng Shuai? The question that the CIO is too weak to ask.
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