Peng Shuai has again denied that she ever made allegations of sexual assault against a former top government official in China, calling it a “huge misunderstanding”.
The two-time Grand Slam doubles champion has spoken to L’Equipe, with a Chinese Olympic representative present.
In November, Peng accused ex-Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault on the Weibo social media channel, but that was later deleted and she has since denied making the claim.
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“I didn’t think there would be such concern and I would like to know: why such concern?” she told L’Equipe, in an interview conducted in Chinese and translated by the Chinese Olympic Committee chief of staff Wang Kan.
"There was a huge misunderstanding in the outside world following this post. I don't want the meaning of this post to be twisted anymore. And I don't want any further media hype around it.
"I never disappeared. Everyone could see me. I never disappeared. It's just that many people, like my friends or people from the IOC messaged me, and it was simply impossible to answer so many messages. But I've been always in close contact with my close friends."
The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that Peng had dinner with its president, Thomas Bach, over the weekend, and she also attended a Chinese curling match this morning.
“We are a sporting organisation, and our job is to remain in contact with her and, as we’ve explained in the past, to carry out personal and quiet diplomacy, to keep in touch with her, as we’ve done,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
“I don’t think it’s for us to be able to judge, in one way, just as it’s not for you to judge either.
“I think we can say that we are doing everything we can to make sure that this situation is as it should be.”
The Women’s Tennis Association has taken a strong approach, doubting the legitimacy of Peng’s statements and blocking tournaments from being held in China until the organisation is satisfied she is safe and living a free life.
In a statement on Monday, the WTA said: "It’s always good to see Peng Shuai, whether in an interview or attending the Olympic Games.
"However, her recent in-person interview does not alleviate any of our concerns about her initial post from November 2. We continue to hold firm on our position."
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