It’s been almost three weeks since tennis’ former world No. 1 doubles player, Peng Shuai made a sexual assault allegation in a since-deleted social media post against a former Chinese vice-premier.
Since then, Shuai disappeared from the public eye, with many — including numerous tennis stars and the WTA — voicing concerns for her safety.
Further, there had been photos and a video shared recently of her out in public, followed by International Olympic Committee officials stating Sunday that Shuai had taken part in an unreleased 30-minute video call, claiming that she is safe and well.
On the latest episode of CBC Sports video series Bring It In, host Morgan Campbell is joined by panellists Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin to discuss how the IOC has only raised additional questions and concerns for the safety of the Chinese tennis star and the athletes going to the Beijing Olympics.
WATCH | Bring It In panel discusses latest on Peng Shuai situation:
In relation to the timing of the IOC stepping up to address the situation, Campbell felt as though the financial commitment to the Beijing Olympics played a factor.
Zirin referred to the IOC’s choice to abstain from speaking sooner as a “chilling response” from the perspective of an athlete.
“To have the International Olympic Committee now emerge as the player to say, ‘nothing to see here everybody, Peng Shuai is okay,’ without anything actionable coming about it,” he said.
“It’s just the IOC saying everything is going to be okay and that’s chilling because this is now more than just the IOC not wanting to intervene in the affairs of the Chinese state — this is now the IOC and Thomas Bach acting in complicity with the Chinese state. And as an athlete going over there, I would be very, very nervous about who has my back and who doesn’t when I’m on Chinese soil.”
From McPeak’s standpoint, there was already enough going on to make the upcoming Games less enjoyable to watch, but Shuai’s situation is even more unsettling when thinking of the safety of female athletes that will compete in Beijing.
“If you’re a female athlete, you might be even more scared … we saw it in Tokyo. There [were] allegations of sexual harassment,” McPeak said. “How do we know if those allegations will be taken seriously by the authorities [in Beijing]? We don’t.
“I’m very concerned for the female athletes that do choose to go over there from any country, not just Canada.”