The IOC is unable to provide certainty about Peng Shuai
With the WTA out in the cold and the IOC tight lipped, the only thing that remains certain is that nobody knows where Peng Shuai is or how she's doing.
The questions surrounding the wellbeing of The Chinese tennis player continue to go unanswered.
The IOC uncertain about Peng Shuai's condition
It's been five weeks since news broke of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai's apparent disappearance from public view in China. The initial report led to an immense amount of vocal concern from varying sporting and political bodies and it continues today. On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee said it cannot give any certainties about her case.
What do we know about Peng Shuai so far?
To date, the two video calls in which the IOC spoke with the Grand Slam doubles champion are the only known contacts that she has had with anybody outside of China since November 2nd. On that day she took to social media where she made a post alleging that she had been sexually assaulted by a former senior Communist Party official. The IOC itself has come in for heavy criticism as observers have claimed the organization is covering for the Chinese government in an effort to support the state funded upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
Naturally, the IOC was forced to address more questions about Peng on Tuesday. Interestingly it was the first press conference held by the organization since the Women's Tennis Association suspended all of it's tournaments in China. To date the WTA has been unable to speak with the Chinese star. "We can't provide you with absolute certainty on anything," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "All we can do is do the best we can in the process that we believe is in the best interests of the well-being of the athlete."
The IOC's stance invites critique
"Quiet diplomacy" is the term that has been used by the IOC when commenting on their preferred approach to China. IOC president Thomas Bach was actually present during the first video call with Peng on November 21st. Also on the call with the three-time Olympian were IOC members from China and an athlete representative. Response to the IOC's approach and subsequent disclosure of information or lack there of, has been immense.
To date the organization has provided no video footage or transcripts of the conversations, further intensifying doubts about whether Peng is able to speak of her own free will or travel."We can't give assurances and we don't know the full facts," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, alluding to an agreement on both sides that Peng and Bach will meet for dinner in Beijing in January. "It's a full road map to at least attempt to keep in touch and to see where she is."
The WTA wants answers
While the IOC is seemingly locked into a diplomatic chess game, the WTA is doing all it can to place pressure on the Chinese government. Along with the suspension of tournaments in the country, there has also been a widespread push amongst former and present players which has seen them using the various platforms to speak out. On social media, #WhereIsPengShuai has been widely circulated and has even been promoted by the likes of tennis greats such as Serena Williams, Martina Navratilova, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Asked why the WTA had not been allowed to speak with Peng, Adams flatly stated, "That I obviously cannot answer because I really don't know."
What happens with Peng now?
Speaking on the the situation, senior IOC member overseeing Beijing's Olympic preparations, Juan Antonio Samaranch cited a "need to be discreet," in reference to ongoing talks with the Chinese sports organizations and official bodies. "We have to respect her desire for discretion also in this very difficult moment of her life. And we will do that." For the moment, the speculation surrounding Peng Shuai's well being continues.