Where is Peng Shuai located?
As the International Olympic Committee prepares for the Winter Games in Beijing, it must ask this question loudly and clearly.
Peng is indeed one of China's own. She is a three-time Olympian, tennis pioneer, and was accused of sexually assaulting a former top official in the Chinese government.
China insists that it doesn’t know the whole story. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said Friday that the matter wasn't a diplomatic question, and that he was not aware of the current situation.
Peng was notified by state media that an email had been released to her name. It sounded more like something a hostage might say when under extreme pressure.
The IOC appears content to follow this absurd, clumsy ruse and not want to do anything to rock its billion-dollar party in Beijing that will take place from February 4th. Due to strict COVID-19 protocols (understandable), and China's desire for dissent to be suppressed (reprehensible), the event is already set to be an extremely joyless affair.
Although the IOC suggested that it is working behind-the scenes to find Peng's location, we are a little skeptical that the organization would even try to buck the Chinese on any issue that could affect its bottom line.
The IOC stated in a statement that "Experience has shown that quiet diplomacy is the best chance to find a solution to questions of such nature." "This is why the IOC won't comment further at this stage," said the IOC.
Translation: IOC President Thomas Bach, who has not shown any signs of a vertebrae over any concerns about China's human right record, hopes that this issue will quietly disappear without his gilded party having to miss one dinner party.
The IOC has already declined to object China's systematic persecution Uyghurs in China and other Muslim minorities within the country. Some activists have called it a genocide.
Instead, they utter nonsense about not wanting political involvement.
Others were complicit in their silence including major sponsors and Monaco-based World Olympians Association which claims to represent more than 100,000 Olympic athletes.
What can the group say about Peng? Peng is one of the athletes it claims to work for, according to its mission statement.
"The WOA decided not to make a comment about Peng Shuai at this time," it said after multiple requests throughout the week.
If the IOC were truly concerned about anything other than clearing checks, it would threaten to remove the Winter Games Beijing unless Peng is able to speak for herself without any government minder.
It's not too late to take drastic measures, but that's the truth.
The IOC quickly canceled 2020 Tokyo Summer Games with just a few months' notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The smaller Winter Games could be moved to 2023, or spread across several countries with facilities.
The truth is that the IOC can do anything it pleases.
It seems content to do nothing.
The tennis community is reacting with justified outrage to the fate of , a popular, gritty player, who had heart surgery at the age of 12 and went on to win major doubles titles at Wimbledon 2013 and at the French Open 2014.
She has also participated in three consecutive Olympics, starting with the 2008 Beijing Olympics in her home country.
Although Peng is not officially retired, Peng hasn't competed in sanctioned matches in almost two years.
However, this hasn't diminished the concern for her well-being.
Serena Williams posted on Twitter, "I am devastated. I hope she is safe. We must investigate this and not remain silent. We send our love and support to her family in this difficult time.
Williams posted a photo of a smiling Peng along with the hashtag "#whereispengshuai".
Similar sentiments were also tweeted by Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, as well as other stars, such as Naomi Osaka and Chris Evert.
Evert tweeted, "Yes these accusations are very troubling." Peng has been my friend since she was 14. We should all be worried; this is serious. Is she safe? We would appreciate any information."
The leader of the WTA showed more courage than the IOC by sending a strong condamnation to China's actions. This is a significant gesture considering the group's efforts to increase its presence in this lucrative market.
China's harsh response to other sports figures, such as the NBA's, causing criticism of its human rights record, Steve Simon, WTA CEO and chairman, is certain to cause serious financial recriminations for women's tennis.
He didn't let that stop him from speaking out, boldly and without a second thought.
Simon stated, "Peng Shuai and all women deserve to be heard, but not censored." We commend Peng Shuai's remarkable courage and strength for coming forward.
He said, "We expect that this issue will be handled properly. This means the allegations must be investigated thoroughly, fairly, transparently, and without censorship. Our number one priority is to ensure the safety and health of our players. We speak out to ensure justice is done."
We won't be surprised if the IOC makes a similar statement.
Seriously, Mr. Bach. Do you have no spine?