New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

After a tennis player goes missing, the IOC may take a tougher stance against China

Key takeaways:

  • Dick Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee, warned Reuters that the IOC might be forced to adopt a tough stance. 

With the safety of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai becoming a global issue, veteran IOC member Dick Pound told Reuters that the International Olympic Committee may be pressured to take a harsh approach with the 2022 Beijing Olympic hosts.

Peng, the former world number one in doubles, has not been spotted or heard from since she claimed on Chinese social media on Nov. 2 that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced her into sex and that the two then had an on-again, off-again consensual relationship.

Because of the international outcry over Peng’s safety and whereabouts, Pound believes the IOC will be forced to approach China on its human rights record.

Although the anger is unlikely to prevent the Beijing Winter Games in February, Pound would not rule it out.

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“It may spin out of control if that isn’t resolved logically very soon,” Pound, the IOC’s longest-serving member, told Reuters. “It’s possible” (force IOC into taking a harder line).

“I doubt it rises to a cancellation of the Olympic Games.” “However, you never know.”

Peng’s claim has elicited no response from Zhang or the Chinese government. Instead, the tennis player’s social media post was promptly removed, and the issue has been removed from the severely regulated internet in China.

The women’s tennis governing body has demanded a probe and threatened to yank tournaments worth tens of millions of dollars from China.

Although Peng is a three-time Olympian, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has shown no sign of willingness to take a similar stand and jeopardise billions of dollars in media rights and sponsorships.

The IOC may take a tougher stance against China after the tennis star  disappears: member

“I’m not sure if we’re there yet, but I’m sure they (the IOC executive committee) are keeping an eye on it,” said Pound, a former Olympian and Canadian lawyer.

“Action toward one of its citizens for raising a complaint about one of their higher-ups is more difficult for them (China) to deal with than the normal ‘this is a domestic concern, now go away.”

The IOC has refused to comment on Peng’s case, claiming that “quiet diplomacy” offered the best chance for a resolution.

Pound admitted that China does not react well to threats and that negotiating with athletes and government officials requires tact.

When asked if the IOC may demand a meeting with Peng, Pound stated, “That would be a little harsher approach than the IOC would ordinarily be taking.”

“In the past, when we’ve gotten people to change their minds, we’ve said, ‘listen, this is all out there in public, how do we respond?’ We can’t afford to ignore it.’

“In the past, this has resulted in some movement.

“I’m guessing it’ll be something along those lines, rather than jabbing them in the chest and telling them ‘do this, or the world will end.'”

“If you’re China, you may say, ‘OK, losing the Olympics will be bad, but it will be more disappointing for the rest of the world than for us.'”

Source: Global News

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