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IOC: It’s not ‘up for us to be able to judge’ if Peng Shuai is under duress

International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams would not say if he thought tennis player Peng Shuai was speaking freely in meetings and interviews that followed her allegations that an official sexually assaulted her.

“We as a sports organization are doing everything to ensure that she is happy, and I don’t think it is up for us to be able to judge in one way,” Adams said at a press conference Monday when asked about Peng, who met with senior IOC officials in Beijing over the weekend. 

“I don’t think it is a judgment for the IOC to make,” he added. “We are a sporting organization, and our job is to remain in contact with her and, as we have explained in the past, to carry out personal, private diplomacy to keep in touch with her as we’ve done, to meet her in person as we’ve done and now invite her to Lausanne to see us.” 

Also on Monday, the tennis player said in a controlled interview with French newspaper L’Équipe that her claims in a social media post that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her were an “enormous misunderstanding.”

“Sexual assault? I never said that anyone made me submit to a sexual assault,” Peng reportedly said in front of a Chinese Olympic official. 

“This post resulted in an enormous misunderstanding from the outside world,” she also said. “My wish is that the meaning of this post no longer be skewed.”

Peng disappeared from public life for several weeks after making the accusation. 

On Saturday, she met with IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC member Kirsty Coventry over dinner in Beijing.

Bach has previously been asked about a potential investigation into Peng’s claims.

“It must be her decision,” he said at the time. “It’s her life. It’s her allegations.” 

—Updated at 5:42 p.m.

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