Peng Shuai US Open 2014

‘Misguided at best’ – IOC warned against meeting Peng Shuai at 2022 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee have been warned against meeting Peng Shuai at the 2022 Beijing Olympics by a sexual assault activist amidst fears it “fails to consider the effects of trauma and will be retraumatising.”

Back in November, the world was shocked to learn about the apparent disappearance of French Open and Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai after she accused former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into a sexual relationship.

Amongst those working towards a resolution were the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

After China refused and failed to satisfy WTA chairman Steve Simon’s demands for reassurances over Peng’s safety and requests for a “full, fair and transparent investigation,” the WTA withdrew all events from China including the prestigious WTA Finals.

The latest update came when a pro-Beijing news outlet showed Peng Shuai retract her allegations, saying there had been multiple “misunderstandings.”

Whilst the WTA had been limited to email correspondence they thought was “100% orchestrated,” the IOC are the only Western organisation to have established video communication with the Chinese star.

However, the interview was slammed for being weak and was labelled a “publicity stunt.” The IOC were also accused of allowing themselves to become a Chinese “propaganda tool.”

IOC President Thomas Bach has apparently been in continued contact with Peng and the IOC now look set to be the first Western group to hold an in-person meeting with her for the first time since the events unfolded.

However, executive director of The Army of Survivors Julie Ann Rivers-Cochran has criticised plans to meet Peng at the upcoming 2022 Olympics held in Beijing, calling it an “inappropriate move.”

The Army of Survivors was set up following the Larry Nasser sexual abuse scandal in US Gymnastics and aims to end sexual assault against young athletes by ensuring perpetrators and enablers are held accountable.

Rivers-Cochran said “not only is it a terrible idea, it is also a dangerous idea – it is a highly inappropriate move that fails to consider the effects of trauma and will ultimately be retraumatising.

“To think that Peng Shuai has the right or the ability to speak freely to consent to this request without pressure is misguided at best, I think it is a poor move from the IOC as it perpetuates their inaction over her initial disclosure.

“Even if a survivor retracts, there is usually a reason behind it, a threat, etc. – the IOC are not considering the effects of control around sexual assault.”

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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.