Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who has not been seen in public since making sexual assault allegations against former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, said she was safe and well following a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) are still unconvinced about the situation, despite Chinese State media releasing footage and pictures of Shuai.

The IOC said in a statement that Bach had spoken to the two-time women's doubles Grand Slam winner via a video call, which lasted over 30 minutes. Shuai's absence from the public eye has raised widespread concern from the sporting world with sports stars and governments calling on China to provide proof that she was safe.

"[She] was doing fine, which was our main concern," the statement from the IOC read, as quoted by the BBC. "At the beginning of the 30-minute call, Peng Shuai thanked the IOC for its concern about her wellbeing."

"She explained that she is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time," it added. "She prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now," it said. "Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis."

Today, IOC President Thomas Bach, the Chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, Emma Terho, and IOC Member in China, Li Lingwei, held a video call with three-time Olympian Peng Shuai from China.

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The increasing pressure from the rest of the world with regards to the whereabouts of Shuai saw Chinese media release footage of the Olympian at a tennis tournament in Beijing. They also showed footage of the tennis player at a restaurant over the weekend to suggest that she was safe and well.

The WTA, however, continued to remain skeptical about Shuai's ability to "be free and make decisions" without being monitored by the Chinese government. They made it clear that video evidence is insufficient to alleviate their concerns regarding the Chinese player's safety in light of the sexual assault allegations against a senior government official.

"I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing. While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference. This video alone is insufficient," Steve Simon, the chairman of the WTA said via a statement.

Peng Shuai
Peng Shuai is a former world number one in doubles William WEST/AFP