Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has denied she ever accused anyone of sexual assault, adding that she herself had deleted her social media post in November that had appeared to make such a claim.
The wellbeing of Peng, a three-time Olympian, became a matter of concern in November when she appeared to allege on social media that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past.
After that post, she was absent from public view for nearly three weeks but Peng denied that she had “disappeared”.
In an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe at a hotel in Beijing, Peng said: “I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way.”
The 36-year-old Peng thanked fellow tennis professionals, sporting personalities and the wider community for showing concern about her welfare but maintained there was no need to worry.
A source at the International Olympic Committee confirmed Peng had met with President Thomas Bach for dinner on Saturday inside the Winter Olympics bubble in Beijing.
The IOC will issue a statement on Peng later on Monday, the source told Reuters.
Peng’s social media post late last year, deleted quickly after going online, led the Women’s Tennis Association to suspend tournaments in China and caused an international outcry about her safety.
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