IOC's Bach 'being used' to convey CCP's propaganda message over Peng Shuai: analysts

A Chinese insider says Beijing has infiltrated the International Olympics Committee to protect its own interests.
By Yitong Wu and Chingman
2022.01.27
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IOC's Bach 'being used' to convey CCP's propaganda message over Peng Shuai: analysts International Olympics Committee chairman Thomas Bach speaks to Chinese women's tennis star Peng Shuai in a video call, Nov. 21, 2021.
AFP

International Olympics Committee (IOC) chairman Thomas Bach is being used by China's ruling Communist Party (CCP) as a conduit to quieten international concern and outrage over the treatment of tennis star Peng Shuai, ahead of the Feb. 4-22 Winter Games hosted by Beijing, analysts said on Thursday.

The IOC said on Wednesday it had a conversation with Peng last week and plans to meet her in Beijing during next month’s Winter Olympics, according to reports in The Guardian and other news media.

Concerns were raised about Peng's safety after she disappeared from public view after accusing a former vice premier of sexual assault.

While Peng has since retracted her comments and claimed her account of the affair with Zhang Gaoli didn't include allegations of assault, rights groups and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) have said those statements were likely staged and scripted by the CCP, in a bid to play down concerns ahead of the Olympics.

Earlier this week, Australian Open organizers banned, then allowed, spectators wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan "Where is Peng Shuai?" after an international outcry accusing them of capitulating to the event's Chinese sponsors.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the organization is keeping tabs on Peng's whereabouts and has been assured that the meeting will go ahead with the assistance of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

But pressed to guarantee that Peng is genuinely free from coercion and psychological pressure, he declined. "I obviously can't answer that because I don't really know," he said.

Bach meanwhile told a conference call on Wednesday that "the most important human right is physical integrity," The Guardian reported.

'Marionette for the CCP'

France-based commentator Wang Longmeng said Bach is basically a "marionette" for the CCP.

"The Peng Shuai incident has been a black swan event for the CCP, and was largely responsible for a chain of events leading to a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics by the international community," Wang told RFA.

"Why didn't Peng directly contact the WTA or her peers who expressed concern?" he said. "Instead, we have Bach playing the role of go-between between Peng and the international community."

"Bach is the CCP's puppet," he said.

He said the meeting would likely go ahead under the close supervision of CCP officials and state security police.

"Both sides will once more follow their script," he said. "I'm very worried that, when the international pressure to boycott the Winter Olympics dies down, the CCP may make Peng Shuai disappear for a long time."

Yang Weidong, son of Xue Yinxian, a former whistleblowing member of the Chinese national team, said the CCP has long since infiltrated the IOC, citing the involvement of Chinese Olympic Committee and IOC member Li Lingwei in the first video call between Bach and Peng.

"When I saw Bach talking to Peng Shuai for the first time in the video call, Li Lingwei was present," Yang told RFA. "She is the vice-chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee ... and a member of the IOC."

"As long as the IOC's affairs have something to do with China, there will be infiltration," he said. "Even IOC members are under China's influence."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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