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It comes weeks after the 35-year old went “missing” following her claim that a former Chinese vicepremier coerced her into sex. Tennis’s governing body earlier said footage of Peng apparently at a youth tournament in Beijing was “insufficient” to prove she was free.
And doubts were cast over the authenticity of an email purportedly written by the star that said the assault allegations were “not true” and “everything is fine”.
But yesterday the International Olympic Committee said former world doubles number No 1 Peng had a video call with Thomas Bach, its president. In it she told him she was safe and well and wanted her privacy respected.
The IOC said that at the start of the 30-minute call, Peng thanked the organisation for its concern about her well-being.
It added: “She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time.
“That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much.”
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The news emerged hours after Chinese state media released video it claimed showed her at a youth tennis tournament. In it, a smiling Peng signs balls for children. Footage was also released of her at a restaurant with friends.
Two weeks ago, she accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, now in his 70s, of forcing her into sex during a long-term on-off relationship. She then vanished from public view and the post was removed.
It prompted sports stars, including Sir Andy Murray, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and countries including Britain to demand Beijing prove Peng is safe.
WTA chief Steve Simon said before the video call: “It remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion.”
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