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Olympics committee says it has spoken to Peng Shuai in China

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By AP
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FILE - Peng Shuai of China reacts after scoring a point against Monica Niculescu of Romania during their women's singles match of the China Open tennis tournament.
FILE - Peng Shuai of China reacts after scoring a point against Monica Niculescu of Romania during their women's singles match of the China Open tennis tournament.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Andy Wong, File

The International Olympic Committee said it held a second video call with Peng Shuai but did not release a video or transcript or comment on the tennis player's sexual assault allegation against a former Chinese government official.

The Grand Slam doubles champion and three-time Olympian dropped out of public view after making her accusation, prompting the women’s professional tennis tour to suspend its tournaments in China.

As Beijing finishes preparations to host the Winter Olympics beginning February 4, the IOC revealed Thursday it held a second video call with Peng following IOC President Thomas Bach’s recent statement that he spoke with her on a 30-minute video call and that she appeared to be “doing fine.”

“This was reconfirmed in yesterday’s call,” the IOC said Thursday. “We continue to be concerned about her personal situation and will continue to support her.”

Once again, the IOC did not release video or a transcript of the exchange, nor explain how the call was arranged.

The IOC repeated its policy of “quiet diplomacy” dealing directly with sports officials “which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organisations, is indicated to be the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters.”

The IOC said it would “stay in regular touch with her, and have already agreed on a personal meeting in January,” shortly before the lucrative Beijing Games begin.

The 35-year-old Peng fell out of public view after raising the allegations about former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli in a Nov. 2 social media post that was quickly taken down by Chinese authorities.

Peng is a former No. 1-ranked doubles player and owner of titles at Wimbledon and the French Open.

The International Tennis Federation, the sport’s governing body, said Thursday that Peng’s allegations “must be addressed.”

“Our primary concern remains Peng Shuai’s well-being,” the ITF said in a statement. “We will continue to support all efforts being made to that end, both publicly and behind the scenes.”

Andrea Gaudenzi, chairman of the men’s professional tennis tour, said the situation raises “serious concerns within and beyond our sport” and that the response “has so far fallen short.”

“We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation,” Gaudenzi said. “We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact.

Doriane Lau, Amnesty International’s China researcher, said the Chinese government “has a track record of silencing women who make allegations of sexual violence” and called on the international community “to urge the Chinese government to investigate all allegations of sexual violence promptly and effectively.”