‘Enormous Misunderstanding’: Peng Shuai Backtracks Sexual Assault Allegation In Controlled Interview

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Sebastian Hughes Politics Reporter
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Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai walked back her allegations of sexual assault against a former top official, calling it an “enormous misunderstanding” during a controlled interview on Monday with French newspaper L’Equipe.

“Sexual assault? I never said that anyone made me submit to a sexual assault,” Peng said in the interview with L’Equipe, delivered in front of a Chinese Olympic official, who translated her comments from Chinese, the AP reported. Interview questions were reportedly submitted in advance, and the format of the interview did not appear to permit follow-up questions.

“This post resulted in an enormous misunderstanding from the outside world,” Peng told L’Equipe, the AP reported. “My wish is that the meaning of this post no longer be skewed.”

Peng disappeared from public life after she made the allegations, sparking worldwide concern for her safety. She reemerged weeks later and eventually denied ever posting the allegations to social media.


International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (R) addresses journalists next to IOC President’s Spokesperson Mark Adams during a press conference at the Main Media Center on February 3, 2022 ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

“I erased it,” Peng said when asked by L’Equipe why her post was taken down from her account, the AP reported. “Why? Because I wanted to.” (RELATED: Peng Shuai T-Shirt Ban Reversed At Australian Open After Backlash)

The interview, alongside an announcement that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach met Peng for dinner on Saturday, appeared to be an attempt to allay the ongoing concerns her initial disappearance caused, the AP reported. IOC spokesman Mark Adams would not say whether he believed Peng’s safety was at risk, the AP reported.

“We are a sporting organization, 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,” Adams said during his daily Olympic press conference, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I don’t think it’s up to us to be able to judge, just as it’s not for you to judge, either, in one way or another, her position,” Adams said, The New York Times reported.

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