Peng Shuai US Open 2014

IOC Peng Shuai interview labelled as “publicity stunt” amidst heavy criticism

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have come under widespread criticism over the handling of their interview with Peng Shuai regarding her well-being.

The IOC held a 30-minute long video call with Peng Shuai herself following her apparent disappearance and censorship after alleging former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.

Peng Shuai herself, IOC president Thomas Bach, chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Emma Terho and IOC Member in China Li Lingwei were all present in the call.

However, despite Peng saying she was “safe and well” in the video call, the IOC have come under heavy and widespread criticism of their interview.

Human rights lawyer and former Canadian Olympic swimmer Nikki Dryden labelled the IOC’s handling as a “publicity stunt.”

Dryden said “I’m so relieved she’s alive, but the execution of this proof-of-life video is really troubling from a safeguarding perspective.

“It seems very political to me that Bach would have this call with the athletes’ commission chair (Emma Terho) – who is probably somewhat appropriate – and then the IOC member from China. That’s not a safeguarding call by any means.

“Tennis should have been able to have that call, it should have been a safeguarding officer having that call – not a publicity stunt.”

Chinese-born spokeswoman for the Human Rights Watch Yaqiu Wang said via twitter that the IOC are now “actively playing a role in the Chinese government’s enforced disappearance, coercion and propaganda machinery.”

Moreover, Human rights organisation Amnesty International’s China researcher Alkan Akad has said “the IOC is entering dangerous waters. They should be extremely careful not to participate in any whitewash of possible human rights violations.

“In the past we have seen various similar cases where people had no option but to say what they had been told to.

“The Chinese government has a track record, especially the state run media outlets of fabricating statements or making people give forced and sometimes televised testimonies shortly after people go missing.”

Ultimately, Akad said that the video interview did little to alleviate the fears regarding Peng’s well-being.

Similarly, sporting rights organisation Global Athlete have labelled the IOC’s approach as “nonchalant” and have accused them of showing “an abhorrent indifference to sexual violence and the well-being of female athletes.”

Continuing, Global Athlete added “the release pretends that Peng never made sexual assault allegations and has not been missing for more than two weeks.

“The statements make the IOC complicit in the Chinese authority’s malicious propaganda and lack of care for basic human rights and justice.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.