Missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai meets with IOC's Thomas Bach via video call

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The International Olympic Committee met via a video call with Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who went missing earlier this month after accusing a former senior member of the Chinese government of sexual assault.

Shuai has started to publicly reemerge under the watchful eye of China's Communist ruling party, first with a cryptic tweet from Chinese state-run media Wednesday — which only raised the alarm for the Women's Tennis Association, which has threatened to sever all ties with China as a result of Shuai's disappearance and treatment.

A Weibo post showed Shuai at a youth tournament in Beijing on Sunday, according to photos released by the organizer — the first time she'd been seen in public since her accusations were posted online.

The IOC released a statement later Sunday that IOC president Thomas Bach met virtually with Shuai on a video call. Chair of the IOC athletes’ commission Emma Terho and IOC member in China Li Lingwei, a former badminton player who has been vice chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee since December 2016, also called in.

The call lasted 30 minutes. Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern about her well-being, explaining that she is safe and living at her home in Beijing, "but would like to have her privacy respected at this time," according to the IOC.

"That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now," the IOC said. "Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much."

Said Terho: “I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern. She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated.”

The editor of a Communist Party newspaper posted a video online that he said showed missing tennis star Peng Shuai watching a match as the ruling party tried to quell fears abroad while suppressing information in China about Peng after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault.
The editor of a Communist Party newspaper posted a video online that he said showed missing tennis star Peng Shuai watching a match as the ruling party tried to quell fears abroad while suppressing information in China about Peng after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault.

Shuai, who's spent time as a No. 1-ranked doubles player, went public with her allegations against Zhang Gaoli, a member of the Chinese Community party’s ruling Standing Committee until 2018, on Nov. 2.

The three-time Olympian and former Wimbledon champion then went silent for nearly two weeks. Weibo, a leading Chinese social media site, removed her post. With the Winter Olympics in Beijing less than four months away, international outcry about human rights has prompted calls for a boycott. (Bach invited Shuai to dinner in Beijing at the end of their call, per the IOC.)

Women's tennis stars Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have voiced their support Shuai. WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon has called for an investigation into her disappearance and censorship, while noting that the sport may have reached its breaking point in China, regardless of the business and financial ramifications.

The Associated Press contributed information to this article.

Contributing: Analis Bailey, Christine Brennan

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Peng Shuai, missing Chinese tennis player, meets IOC via video call