The International Olympic Committee issued a statement Monday regarding its negotiations with China’s most-popular women’s tennis player, Peng Shuai, who has been barred from the Chinese National Team by the government because she backed the Olympic Games following Xi Jinping’s suggestion that the country boycott them.
In a 30-minute video conversation, Peng Shuai was informed that her coach was not allowed to recruit players to the national team and that she would not be receiving a national award. She also did not receive a call from the National Sports Commitee, which oversees the Chinese National Team, about the event, according to an individual with knowledge of the call.
In her statement Monday, Peng Shuai said that the IOC had “accepted my appeal and considered it very serious and accepted my request for a personal interview with a commission representative.”
The person who made the video call, who was not part of the IOC but had access to a connection, said that the IOC representative, Vladimir Lisin, told her that Peng Shuai had told him that she was “angry” and that she had a “strong objection” and “strong objection” to their dealings.
When Li won Olympic gold in the women’s singles in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, she paid homage to Xi’s suggestion that China not participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Soon after, she said she decided to include a statement on her Instagram, with the hashtag #TeamBibi, which translates to “team female.”
The Chinese government responded by demanding that Peng Shuai delete the post, which it said was “inappropriate and hurtful.” She posted an apology, but it was viewed by tens of thousands of people.
The 2017 WTA Singles Tour purse is $1.86 million, but the WTA and ATP have said there will be no prize money allocated for Rio at this time.
The video call was only the latest in a lengthy fight between the government and Peng Shuai.
According to her, she was interrogated by a government official who, she said, threatened to “extort” her if she didn’t quit. The same official told her, she said, that she had become a “woman of conscience” for making the statement, and that she “went down very quickly,” said Peng Shuai, who played in the China Open.
“If I go down the path of quitting, I can guarantee that you will be ashamed, the Chinese people will be ashamed, and I’m sure that’s why I’d be arrested,” she said he said to her.
An Olympic hopeful in swimming before he married Peng Shuai and took up tennis, Lisin said he understood the government’s demands.
“I didn’t come here thinking only of China,” Lisin said. “I was not part of the government’s planning … I didn’t come here thinking about a tennis player. I came here thinking about a free and democratic China. And of course it’s my opinion, it’s a minefield.”