Never Said Anyone Had Sexually Assaulted Me: Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai

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Peng Shuai denies sexual assault claims against a politician in China. During a recent interview with a French newspaper, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai backtracked of levying sexual assault allegations against the former vice-premier of China and then disappearing for months. The allegations first surfaced in early November and were immediately deleted by the Chinese authorities from the internet.

This immediate and sudden restriction of a social media post about sexual assault had caused uproar across the globe as tennis players and associations demanded justice for her and questioned her disappearance. This also led to the Women Tennis Association declaring to withdraw from China, regardless of monetary and business loss, if the country failed to assure the organisation that Shuai was safe.

Now in an interview with L’Equipe, Shuai said, “I never disappeared. It’s just that many people, like my friends or people from the IOC (International Olympic Organisation), messaged me, and it was simply impossible to answer so many messages,” adding, “But I’ve been always in close contact with my close friends. I talked to them, I answered their emails. I also talked with the WTA.”

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On being asked about her post regarding sexual assault and its removal from the internet, Shuai said, “Sexual assault? I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way.” However, she did not elaborate on this and completely disowned the post.

“Why did you take me to your house and force me into having relations with you?” Shuai had written in her now deleted post on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. This is not the first time that Shuai has denied making sexual assault allegations. In December last year, during an interview with a Chinese language Singaporean newspaper, she denied making such allegations or writing about them.

Reportedly, her Weibo account has not been updated since the post was deleted. The question on her whereabouts loomed at large as people protested and asked “Where is Peng Shuai?” Last month at the Australian Open, people were seen wearing a T-shirt with this question.

During the interview, she also said that she had a nice discussion with Thomas Bach of the IOC on Sunday. Bach is attending the Winter Olympics Game in China. The IOC has confirmed the meeting and in a statement, and stated that Shuai is planning to travel to Europe after the pandemic and visit the IOC headquarters in Switzerland.

Image Credit: Sky Sports