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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

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

HRW criticizes Biden over "mixed signals" on human rights

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Human Rights Watch criticized President Biden and other leaders of democratic nations for sending "mixed signals" on human rights in its annual World Report published on Thursday, saying they "are not meeting the challenges before them."

Why it matters: Though Biden pledged to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote that weapon sales to repressive governments and public reticence on certain human rights violations place those promises in question.

2 hours ago - World

U.S: Nord Stream 2 "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will make sure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany won't go ahead if Russian troops invade Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Germany's ambassador to the U.S. appeared to support Price's strong rhetoric on the strategically significant pipeline that would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion, per Axios' Zachary Basu.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.