The International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission on Saturday called for “quiet diplomacy” to resolve the question of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who has not been seen in public since the allegations against a former deputy prime minister.
Peng’s allegation that she was forced to have sex during an on-off relationship for several years was quickly removed from social media.
While tennis officials, as well as the United Nations, have challenged Chinese officials to provide indisputable evidence of Peng’s whereabouts, the commission, which represents athletes within the IOC, struck a softer chord.
Former Finland ice hockey player Emma Tero, chair of the Athletes Commission, tweeted on Saturday: “Along with the worldwide athlete community, IOC AC is deeply concerned about the condition of three-time Olympian Peng Shuai.”
“We support a calm diplomatic approach and hope this will release information about Peng Shuai’s whereabouts and confirm his safety and well-being.”
Tero, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, also expressed hope that “a way could be found for direct engagement between him (Peng) and his athlete colleagues”.
The statement underscores the soft-spoken approach adopted on Thursday by the IOC, which is set to anger China, three months ahead of hosting the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
In a brief statement on Saturday, a spokesman for the Olympic body acknowledged the “concerns expressed by so many athletes and the national Olympic committees” but insisted it would continue with its “quiet diplomacy”.
“This approach means that we will continue our open dialogue at all levels with the Olympic Movement in China,” the IOC statement said.
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