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Olympic Athletes Commission calls for “silent diplomacy” over Peng Shuai


Many tennis personalities have expressed concern about the situation surrounding Peng Shuai.© AFP

The International Olympic Committee’s Athletics Commission on Saturday called for “silent diplomacy” on the issue of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, which has not been seen in public since allegations against a former deputy prime minister. Peng’s assertion that she was forced to have sex during an on-off relationship that spanned several years was quickly deleted from social media. While the tennis authorities, as well as the United Nations, have challenged the Chinese authorities to provide indisputable evidence of Peng’s whereabouts, the commission, which represents athletes within the IOC, has edged a softer string.

“Together with the global athlete community, the IOC AC is very concerned about the situation of the three-time Olympic player Peng Shuai,” former Finnish ice hockey player Emma Terho, president of the Athletics Commission, tweeted on Saturday.

“We support the silent diplomacy approach being followed and hope it will lead to the release of information on where Peng Shuai is and confirmation of her safety and well-being.”

Terho, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, also hoped that “a way can be found for direct connection between her (Peng) and her athlete colleagues”.

The statement underscores the soft-spoken approach adopted by the IOC on Thursday, which is aware of insulting China just three months before Beijing goes on to host the Winter Olympics.

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In a brief statement Saturday, an Olympic body spokesman acknowledged “the concerns expressed by so many athletes and National Olympic Committees”, but insisted it would continue with its “silent diplomacy”.

“This approach means that we will continue our open dialogue at all levels with the Olympic Movement in China,” the IOC statement said.

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