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International Olympic Committee accused of being ‘complicit in coercion’

The push has evolved out of lobbying by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in September 2020, which called for the IOC to reconsider hosting the Games in Beijing. It has now become a live issue in Washington and London as Joe Biden and Boris Johnson weigh up a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

The boycott threats were originally in response to China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority and its political crackdown in Hong Kong but Peng’s treatment has also thrown the spotlight on the treatment of women in a system that does not tolerate threats to the ruling Party.

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In her final post on her Weibo social media account before it was shut down, Peng accused former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex with him while his wife stood guard outside the door.

“I know that for someone of your eminence, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you’ve said that you’re not afraid,” she wrote. “But even if it’s just me, like an egg hitting a rock, or a moth to the flame, courting self-destruction, I’ll tell the truth about you.”

Chinese feminists in New York protested on Sunday and told reporters that while they were relieved that Peng did not appear physically harmed, she was “not truly free”.

Those concerns were compounded by another video released on Saturday that showed Peng dining in a private room at a Beijing restaurant. The camera operator was careful to film the date on the door on the way into the restaurant and there were five mentions of the date November 21 during the conversation between Peng and three others in the one-minute clip.

A new video that appears to show missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has been released overseas by China state-run media.

A new video that appears to show missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has been released overseas by China state-run media.Credit:

WTA chairman Steve Simon has threatened to withdraw all tennis competitions from China unless his demands to speak with Peng are met. Tennis stars Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka, Rafael Nadal are among the dozens of high-profile athletes campaigning for Peng to be able to speak freely.

Simon said the videos were insufficient proof of her wellbeing and that it was still not clear that she was free to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference.

“As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug,” he said. “I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”

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