The International Olympic Committee said Sunday that Chinese female tennis professional Peng Shuai, who recently accused one of China's former vice premiers of sexual impropriety, held a video call with its president Thomas Bach.
The call came as fears mounted internationally over Peng's safety since she aired allegations about the conduct of politician Zhang Gaoli early this month. On Sunday, a tennis tournament organizer in Beijing said Peng attended its event.
Two and a half months ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, China may have tried to clear up doubt that Peng has been detained by authorities, with U.S. President Joe Biden saying his country is considering a diplomatic boycott of the sports event, pundits said.
"At the beginning of the 30-minute call, Peng Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern about her well-being," said the IOC with a photo of them speaking in a video call. "She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time."
"That is why she prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now. Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis, the sport she loves so much."
The IOC said Bach was joined during the call by the chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, Emma Terho, of Finland and Chinese IOC member Li Lingwei, who has known Peng for many years from her time in the Chinese Tennis Federation.
The statement also said Bach, who will be in Beijing in January before the Winter Olympics in February, invited Peng to have dinner when he arrives in the city, and Peng gladly accepted.
"I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern," said Terho. "She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated."
On Saturday, videos of Peng were released, but Steve Simon, the chairman and CEO of the WTA women's pro tennis tour, remained concerned, according to a statement on the organization's website.
"While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference...I remain concerned about Peng Shuai's health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug," Simon wrote.
Peng has won the women's doubles at Wimbledon and the French Open -- two of four major global tournaments.
Zhang served as a member of the Politburo of the ruling Communist Party's Central Committee from 2012 through 2017 under the leadership of President Xi Jinping.
In early November, a social media post, spread online under her name, said that she had sexual relations with Zhang when he was the top party official of Tianjin.
The post on Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter, was swiftly deleted. It is still unknown whether what appears to be her claim is true, although a reporter for a Chinese newspaper said it seems reliable.