Long-serving International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound has said that the organization’s senior officials have come to a “unanimous conclusion” that Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is “fine.” Peng, a three-time Olympian and once a top-ranked doubles player, vanished from the public eye after leveling an accusation of sexual assault against a former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli. On Nov. 21, the IOC said two officials, including the organization’s president, had conducted a 30-minute video call with Peng. A Chinese sports official was also present on the call, according to a statement. The IOC said Peng appeared “relaxed” and “would like to have her privacy respected.” It has not released any footage from the call.
Pound called the video conversation “the best evidence we have at the moment.” Human Rights Watch criticized the IOC over the call, saying that the organization’s motives stemmed from a desire to keep the Beijing Games on track to start in February. Pound on Tuesday denied this. “That’s complete nonsense,” he told Reuters, adding later that Peng was “happy to be on the call.” Pound’s assertion comes a day after the European Union demanded China provide “verifiable proof” that Peng was safe. “Her recent public reappearance does not ease concerns about her safety and freedom,” an EU spokesperson said Tuesday. The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to occur Feb. 4-20.