Dec 2, 2021 - Sports

IOC defends "quiet diplomacy" after 2nd Peng Shuai call

Shuai Peng during the Connecticut Open in August 2014.

Peng Shuai during the Connecticut Open in August 2014. Photo: David Hahn/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee said Thursday it held a second video call with Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star who disappeared for weeks after accusing a former top government official of sexual assault.

Why it matters: During the call, the IOC and Peng agreed to an in-person meeting in January, though the committee did not disclose exactly when or where the meeting would take place, as it is unclear if the tennis star is currently allowed to travel outside of China.

  • The tennis star accused China's former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault on Nov. 2 and wasn't seen again until Nov. 21 when IOC President Thomas Bach held a video call with Peng.

Driving the news: The Women's Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in China and Hong Kong on Wednesday in light of the Chinese government's treatment of Peng.

What they're saying: "There are different ways to achieve her well-being and safety," the IOC said in a statement Thursday.

  • "We have taken a very human and person-centred approach to her situation. Since she is a three-time Olympian, the IOC is addressing these concerns directly with Chinese sports organisations," it added.
  • "We are using 'quiet diplomacy' which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organisations, is indicated to be the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters."

The big picture: The WTA's move comes amid calls to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics over China's human rights abuses.

  • The IOC has faced intense backlash for holding the games in Beijing, and was criticized for being slow to respond to Peng's disappearance, Axios' Kendall Baker notes.

Go deeper: Courage vs. coddling with China

Go deeper