IOC Won't Comment on Peng Shuai's Disappearance, Says 'Quiet Diplomacy' Best Solution

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) won't comment on the disappearance of professional Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai who vanished after accusing a former top official of sexually assaulting her.

The IOC declined to comment Friday, saying in an email statement, "Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution for questions of such nature. This explains why the IOC will not comment any further at this stage."

The 35-year-old wrote a lengthy post on her social media on November 2 claiming she was raped three years ago by former top Chinese official Zhang Gaoli in his home despite refusing sex numerous times.

"I was so frightened that afternoon, never thinking that this thing could happen," the post said.

The post was quickly deleted from her verified account on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, but screenshots of the accusation were spread on the internet. Search for Peng's account on the platform now provides no results

The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of Peng's social media post since it had been deleted, although screenshots of the post have circulated on Twitter, which is blocked in China.

China's Foreign Ministry on Friday also refused to comment on the disappearance of Shuai after she accused Gaoli, 75, a former vice premier and member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, of sexually assaulting her.

The Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that the disappearance was "not a diplomatic question and I'm not aware of the situation."

The ministry has consistently disavowed knowledge of the issue since Peng made her accusation more than two weeks ago.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Zhao Lijian, Peng Shuai, Disappearance
China's Foreign Ministry on Friday stuck to its line that it wasn't aware of the controversy surrounding tennis professional Peng Shuai, who disappeared after accusing a former top official of sexually assaulting her. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responds during the daily media presser in Beijing, China on November 19. Liu Zheng/AP Photo

The 35-year-old former top-ranked player in women's doubles won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She also participated in three Olympics, making her disappearance all the more prominent with Beijing set to host the Winter Games starting February 4.

Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the U.N. human rights office in Geneva, said Friday it was calling for "an investigation with full transparency into her allegation of sexual assault."

"And I think we would say that that should be the case into all allegations of sexual assault. It is really important to ensure accountability, to ensure justice for the victims," she said.

Steve Simon, the chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, questioned the authenticity of what a Chinese state media outlet said this week was an email intended for him in which Peng said she was safe and that the assault allegation was untrue. It was tweeted by CGTN, the international arm of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

The State Council Information Office, which represents the Chinese government, did not respond to emailed questions about Peng's current situation and Simon's doubts about the email.

China, Shuai Peng, Tennis, Missing
Chinese authorities have squelched virtually all online discussion of sexual assault accusations apparently made by China's Shuai Peng against a former top government official, showing how sensitive the ruling Communist Party is to such charges. Peng plays a shot against Romania's Sorana Cirstea during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France in 2017. Michel Euler, File/AP Photo