IOC Chief Claims Peng Shuai Is Safe Due To Her ‘Relaxed Impression’ During Video Call - UBITENNIS
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IOC Chief Claims Peng Shuai Is Safe Due To Her ‘Relaxed Impression’ During Video Call

In his first public statement since his video call with the tennis player, Thomas Bach failed to speak about the allegations of sexual assault.

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The head of the International Olympic Committee has claimed a 30-minute conversation with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai over the weekend has enabled him to conclude that she is ‘safe and well.’

Thomas Bach was the first senior international figure to speak with the former world No.1 doubles player after a post appeared on her Weibo accusing a former government official of sexual assault. On November 2nd a 1500-word statement believed to be uploaded by Shuai accused China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her into sex and that the two had an affair over a 10-year period. The post was removed less than an hour after it was published and restrictions have been placed on Shuai’s Weibo account ever since. She then vanished from the public eye shortly afterwards before state-run media posted a series of photos and videos claiming she is safe.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has voiced their concerns that Shuai is being censored by authorities in her country and hasn’t been allowed to speak freely. Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the governing body, has called for an investigation to be made into the allegations. He has also threatened to cancel tournaments in China should they not receive guarantees about Shuai’s welfare.

However, the IOC has taken a more lenient approach to the matter. Over the weekend they issued a press release confirming that they had a 30-minute conversation with the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion. Also in attendance was IOC Athletes’ Commission, Emma Terho, and IOC Member in China Li Lingwei. Lingwei is a former secretary of China’s communist party.

“You know the whole world was concerned and about her safety and well-being including the IOC. This is why we took various contacts from the moment this issue came up. She assured us she is well and safe but wants her privacy respected for obvious reasons and we offered her support and further conversations,” Back said during an online interview with the AIPS Young Reporters group.

The IOC has been accused by the Human Rights Watch of sportswashing which is the practice of using sport to improve its image. In a statement the organisation urged them to not promote Chinese propaganda. The WTA has also said that they still have their concerns over Shuai’s safety. The IOC statement failed to address the allegations of sexual assault, how they managed to set up their video call in the first place and why some governing bodies such as the WTA have been unable to contact Shuai.

Nevertheless, Bach says Shuai’s ‘relaxed impression’ during their call is proof that everything is well. A somewhat dubious claim from a person who is a fully qualified lawyer in his native Germany.

“We also offered a meeting when we come in January and this video call and this 30-minutes’ conversation gave a relaxed impression we can all conclude that she is safe and well,” Bach claims. ”But we will keep in contact and this is why we proposed to have a meeting there in January when we come to Beijing. She was telling us that she was with her family and friends and wants to be involved in her beloved sport of tennis.’
“I know, from all the reactions we have got, that what the world wanted to know is that she safe and well and this was the appearance in this video live conference.”

Bach’s claim that all is well with Shuai has failed to ease the concerns with some branding the IOC’s call as a disaster. The timing of the situation comes just months before the 2022 Winter Olympic Games which will be held in Beijing. It should also be noted that Gaoli, who has not been seen in public since the allegations, was a key figure in the organisation of the Games prior to his retirement.

News of Shuai’s Weibo post have been censored in China with no leading news outlet reporting on the developments. The country’s media is under government control. Even an article which was published by the public broadcaster of Hong Kong was later deleted due to what some suspect might be Chinese influence.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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