Tennis player Peng Shuai has been missing since she accused a former top Communist Party official of sexual assault more than two weeks ago. We commend the WTA and its CEO Steve Simon for forcefully intervening in the situation and threatening to pull its business from China if Peng is not fully accounted for and her allegations are not properly investigated. We condemn the IOC for staying silent on the three-time Olympian’s disappearance. The IOC has a duty to care for its athletes. Silence is unacceptable.
With the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games two months away, the IOC must use its substantial leverage to ensure that the international community is provided proof of Peng’s whereabouts, that Peng is immediately given safe passage out of China, and that a full and transparent investigation is conducted into her allegations of sexual assault.
The IOC can no longer hide behind the veil of “quiet diplomacy”; they must immediately and publicly threaten sanctions on the Chinese Olympic Committee should any harm come to Peng Shuai. As China prepares to host the Olympic Games, every athlete is watching to see what action the IOC will take to protect athletes and their fundamental human rights.
The IOC tried “quiet diplomacy” in Iran and failed. The result was the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari. China is using Peng’s sport popularity to silence athletes and the people of China. Retribution towards athletes for using their voice must never be tolerated.
Actions speak louder than words; it is time for the IOC to show that it values athlete safety above its financial and political interests.