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Thomas Bach met Peng Shuai in Beijing, IOC says

Tennis star tells French media she did not level sexual assault allegation

Peng Shuai in 2019.    © Reuters

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- The International Olympic Committee said Monday its President Thomas Bach had a face-to-face meeting with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, whose welfare became a concern after she aired sexual abuse accusations against a powerful government official.

As per a statement released by the IOC, the meeting took place on Saturday over dinner at the Olympic club in Beijing. Bach was joined by Kirsty Coventry, the former chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission and an IOC member.

Ahead of the IOC's statement, Peng told French sports daily L'Equipe in an interview published on Monday that she never accused anyone of sexual assault, and that she deleted the Weibo post that appeared to make such an allegation.

She also denied that she ever disappeared.

Peng is believed to have made the allegations in the deleted social media post against China's former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in November.

The Peng scandal became a diplomatic headache for China, with the Women's Tennis Association pulling out of the nation and some of the world's most famous tennis players using the Twitter hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai to cast light on her situation.

Bach said in a press conference on Thursday the IOC aims to "find out to see if she wants to have an inquiry (into the incident) and, of course, we would support her in this."

"But this has to be her decision, it is her life, it is her allegation," he said.

According to the IOC, the three-time Olympian informed Bach that she would attend several events at the Beijing Games over the coming days. On Saturday evening, Peng and Coventry attended the mixed curling match between China and Norway.

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