Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai will make a shock appearance inside the closed loop at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics for a meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
The wellbeing of Peng, a former world No.1 doubles player, became a matter of concern in November when she alleged on social media that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her.
Last month Peng said she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and that the post she made had been misunderstood.
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Zhang has not commented on the matter.
The IOC has held several video calls with Peng and Bach said a planned meeting would go ahead at the February 4-20 Games.
The closed loop is a restricted zone for all Games participants in order to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 infection in Beijing.
“We know from her explanations … that she is living in Beijing, that she can move freely, spending time with family and friends,” Bach told a news conference.
“Now we will be able to do the next step in a personal meeting to convince us in person of her wellbeing and state of mind.”
Bach said if Peng wanted her allegations to be investigated he would support her.
“If she wants to have an inquiry we would also support her in this. But it’s her life, it’s her allegations,” Bach said.
“We will know more about her physical integrity and mental state when we meet her in person.”
Where is Peng Shuai?
The IOC has had several phone calls with the player, but international concerns over her safety and wellbeing have not been allayed.
Last month fans at the Australian Open, keen to keep the issue in the public eye, wore T-shirts asking where she is.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has suspended tournaments in China due to its concerns over Peng’s safety.
China has not directly commented on Peng’s initial post but said after the WTA’s move that it “opposes the politicisation of sports”.