Doubts remain over Peng Shuai’s well-being, reports ITV News Asia correspondent Debi Edward from Beijing
With growing concern over the safety of tennis star Peng Shuai, Chinese state media released a video of her during the opening ceremony of an event in Beijing.
On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee confirmed that it spoke to the three-time Olympian on a 30-minute video call – but it is not clear if she was able to speak freely or if she was under the supervision of the state.
Concerns were raised after his disappearance from public view following sexual abuse allegations she made against a former senior Chinese official, which were quickly removed from social networks.
As pressure mounts on China to prove the tennis star is safe, Chinese state media released several videos over the weekend claiming to show Peng in public.
A video appearing to show Peng in public was posted early Sunday by Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.
Along with the video, Hu Xijin wrote, “Peng Shuai showed up at the opening ceremony of a teenage tennis final in Beijing on Sunday morning.”
Another video posted by Global Times chief reporter Qingqing Chen on Twitter also appears to show Peng at the junior tennis event.
On Saturday, a video appeared on Chinese state media that appeared to show the 35-year-old in a restaurant.
Along with the clips posted on Twitter, Hu Xijin wrote, “I acquired two music videos, which show Peng Shuai having dinner with his trainer and friends at a restaurant. The video content clearly shows that they were filmed on Saturday, Beijing time. “
Earlier, Hu wrote that he had “confirmed from my own sources” that the photos published on Friday of Peng at her home were “up to date,” adding, “In the past few days, she has been freely at home and has not didn’t want to be disturbed. She will show up in public and participate in some activities soon. “
However, serious doubts remain as neither the videos nor the pictures have been independently verified.
After the video was released on Saturday, Steve Simon, president and CEO of the WTA, said in a statement that “the video alone is insufficient.”
He wrote, “I am happy to see the videos published by Chinese state media that appear to show Peng Shuai in a restaurant in Beijing. Although it is positive to see her, it remains difficult to know if she is free and able to make decisions and act on her own, without coercion or outside interference. “
Also on Saturday, Wimbledon said it was “united with the rest of tennis in the need to understand that Peng Shuai is safe”.
She wrote in a statement that she “was working in support of the WTA’s efforts to establish her security.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said the government remained “extremely concerned” and was following the matter closely.
It comes as ministers and officials call for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics over the affair.
Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4’s PM show that the UK should ‘stand up’ and make China understand that human rights abuses are unacceptable.
But he said, “One of the big problems we have is that we have become so dependent on China for so many things. “
And that as a result, the government was “a little pissed off to upset them.”