Chinese tennis star Peng denies filing sexual assault complaint

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BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said on Sunday that she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and that a social media post she posted early last month had been misunderstood.

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Peng’s well-being became a matter of concern among the global tennis community and advocacy groups when she appeared to claim that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, assaulted her. sexually in the past. After this message, she was absent from the public for almost three weeks.

“First of all I must stress an extremely important point, I have never said or written that someone sexually assaulted me, I must clearly stress this point,” Peng said in the video posted by Lianhe. Zaobao, a Singapore media. .

Peng’s remarks on Sunday marked the first time she had approached the case on camera in public. She spoke on the sidelines of a cross-country skiing event in Shanghai that she attended.

She said her post on Weibo, a quickly deleted Twitter-like social media site, was a “private matter.”

Peng, 35, said in the video that “people have a lot of misunderstandings” about his Weibo post. She has not developed.

She also said that she lived at her home in Beijing unsupervised. She didn’t mention Zhang.

Reuters has not been able to reach Peng since it was posted on Weibo.

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The Women’s Tennis Association, which announced earlier this month that it would immediately suspend tournaments in China over concerns over Peng’s treatment and the safety of other players, continued to call for an investigation.

“It was once again nice to see Peng Shuai in a public setting and we certainly hope she is doing well,” he said in a statement.

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“As we have always stated, these appearances do not alleviate or address the WTA’s significant concerns about their well-being and their ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” said the WTA.

“We remain firm in our call for a full, fair and transparent, uncensored investigation into his allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that raised our initial concern.”

China did not directly comment on Peng’s initial post, but said after the WTA’s decision to suspend tournaments in China that it “opposes the politicization of sport.”

Zhang did not comment on the matter.

Discussion of the scandal, which erupted as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February, has been heavily censored in China.

Peng said in the video released on Sunday that she personally wrote to WTA director Steve Simon last month, in which she denied the assault allegation, and that a translation into English by state media Chinese was correct.

Simon said at the time that he “found it hard to believe” that Peng actually wrote the email or believed what was attributed to him.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) held two video calls with Peng, 35.

At the Shanghai event on Sunday, Peng appeared on a fifth-floor observation balcony with athletes from various sports, including former NBA basketball star Yao Ming, and watched for about 20 minutes. , according to Lianhe Zaobao’s report.

She was wearing a black jacket with a Chinese flag and a red T-shirt with the characters from China.

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