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House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, slammed the International Olympics Committee after it participated in a video call with missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai and Chinese Communist officials.
“It has been disturbing to see the IOC take statements from CCP propagandists at face value since Peng Shuai’s disappearance, but their promotion of this latest stunt turns the IOC from willfully ignorant into an active participant in the CCP’s mistreatment of Peng,” McCaul said in a statement Monday.
McCaul’s statement comes after Peng appeared in a video call with IOC President Thomas Bach, but the call was not made available to independent media. The lawmaker also raised concerns that the only other people on the call were a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official and the vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee.
Video of Peng also surfaced on Chinese state media over the weekend, with the tennis star appearing at a dinner with friends on Saturday and at a children’s tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday.
But the call and pictures of Peng have done little to alleviate the fears of the Women’s Tennis Association, which has argued the tennis star should be able to speak in a setting free of “censorship or coercion.”
“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a WTA spokeswoman told ESPN. She said the WTA continues to “call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.”
Concern for Peng’s well-being began on Nov. 2 after the former women’s doubles world No. 1 posted accusations on social media that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her. The post was quickly deleted and the topic was blocked from discussion within China, with Peng going missing from public view for three weeks in the aftermath.
Peng’s suspicious disappearance has only heightened calls from critics to boycott the Winter Games set to be held in China in February.
McCaul joined critics in calling on the Biden administration to take some kind of action, calling the White House to “prepare our athletes for the hostile environment they will be entering.”
“It’s clear the IOC is more interested in its financial relationship with the CCP than in protecting the well-being of Olympic athletes,” McCaul said. “Given this direct collusion between the IOC [and] the Chinese Olympic Committee to marginalize and silence Peng, on top of the genocide and gross human rights violations perpetrated by the CCP, it is far past the time for the Biden administration to take a forward-leaning policy position on the Olympics and to prepare our athletes for the hostile environment they will be entering.”