Chinese tennis star recants her social media post
The Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has retracted her statement that she was sexually assaulted by the former vice premier of China Zhang Gaoli.
She made the remarks Sunday while speaking on the sidelines of a cross-skiing event in Shanghai which was promoting the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point,” Peng said in the video posted by Lianhe Zaobao, a Singapore media outlet.
At the Shanghai event on Sunday, Peng appeared on a fifth floor viewing balcony with athletes from various sports, including former NBA basketball star Yao Ming, and watched for about 20 minutes, according to the Lianhe Zaobao report.
She wore a black jacket with a China flag and a red T-shirt with the characters for China.
The Women Tennis Association became worried after she posted on Weibo the Chinese Twitter that she had been sexually assaulted. The post was later deleted and Shuai disappeared for three weeks then appeared on video calls with the International Olympic Committee to say she was “alright and living at home.” The WTA had to pull tournaments out of China because according to WTA president Steve Simon. Her wellbeing matters more than money.
“It was again good to see Peng Shuai in a public setting and we certainly hope she is doing well,” Steve Simon said in a statement.
Peng said in the video posted on Sunday that she had personally written a letter last month to WTA head Steve Simon, in which she denied the allegation of assault, and that an English translation of it by Chinese state media was accurate.
Simon had said at the time that he “had a hard time believing” that Peng had actually written the email or believed what had been attributed to her. Despite her email the WTA issued a statement Sunday.
“As we have consistently stated, these appearances do not alleviate or address the WTA’s significant concerns about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion, we remain steadfast in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.”
The Chinese foreign ministry warned that it “opposes the politicization of sports.” Discussion of the alleged scandal is heavily censored in China.
Peng, 35, said in the video that “people have many misunderstandings” about her Weibo post. She did not elaborate.
She also said that she had been living at home in Beijing without supervision. She did not mention Zhang.
Reuters has been unable to reach Peng since her Weibo post.