Peng Shuai may get her wish, IOC member says

More than a week after China’s tennis player Peng Shuai dealt a possible Olympic Games blow with a controversial tweet, IOC member Dick Pound said Peng was “fine.”

Peng had expressed her opinion on whether China should be allowed to host the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on a Chinese social media site after the International Olympic Committee awarded the Winter Games to Beijing in December.

Peng’s tweet translated to: “After winning the bid, we decided to give the same strength to both Beijing and Almaty. Now we must have more things in common to both win in 2022.”

Kazakhstan’s Almaty hosted the inaugural Olympic torch relay last year, a popular move in China, which considers the torch relay to be a form of cultural exchange.

“After reading her comment, we shared a unanimous conclusion: she is fine,” Pound told The Associated Press in an email. “I sent a note to the head of the Chinese Olympic Committee, inviting him to meet with me at the next IOC session in Japan.”

The IOC is expecting China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping at the upcoming meetings in Shizuoka, Japan. The two leaders were scheduled to attend a conference on Saturday to discuss the Olympic inclusion of cross-country skiing in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Peng served as one of China’s flag bearers at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The 31-year-old Peng spent six years playing on the WTA Tour and was ranked as high as eighth in the world in 2011.

She also played in five Grand Slam tournaments last year, missing the second round of the Australian Open with a thigh injury. Peng missed one Grand Slam in 2011 with a back injury.

The IOC banned Chinese figure skater Yang Wei from the 2014 Sochi Olympics after he fell at the 2011 Asian Games in Guangzhou in China. His comments caused a public uproar and a banning from the Olympics.

Peng could be in a similar situation with IOC rules that require athletes to represent the Olympic flag and be “under the direct control and management of the national Olympic committee.”

“It’s a good and delicate situation,” Pound said. “The new rules and the old rules have distinct points of view, so it’s important for the sport to recognize that.”

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