Saturday, January 22 2022

(Nyon, Switzerland) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should immediately stop supporting China’s repressive strategy and start prioritizing the protection of athletes and meeting its human rights obligations, the Alliance Sport & Rights said today. The process of developing an IOC human rights strategic framework should include meaningful engagement with representatives of relevant stakeholders, as outlined in the article by Rachel Davis and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.Recommendations for an IOC human rights strategy. “

After weeks of growing concern and calls for information on the fate of Chinese tennis player and three-time Olympian Peng Shuai, the IOC said in a statement declaration that President Thomas Bach spoke with Peng on a 30-minute video call and was assured of his safety and well-being. As Human Rights Watch reported, Chinese authorities continued to impose a media and internet blackout on the case, and words such as “tennis” and “Peng” were censored or restricted.

“The IOC’s behavior regarding the allegations of sexual assault and disappearance of Peng Shuai has been irresponsible and shows how hollow its understanding of human rights is,” said Andrea Florence, Acting Director of the Alliance Sport & Rights. “The IOC’s eagerness to ignore the voice of an Olympian who may be in danger and to support claims by state-sponsored media in China shows the urgent and critical need for an IOC human rights strategy. man in close consultation with relevant stakeholders, putting athletes at the forefront of the center. “

On November 2, Peng Shuai said on social media that she was sexually assaulted and forced to have sex with Zhang Gaoli, 75, one of the former top officials of the Communist Party of China and head of a State Council working group overseeing preparations for Beijing 2022. The IOC’s statement made no mention of of these serious accusations, let alone any plans to investigate or provide Peng with traumatic assistance or legal support.

“The process of making allegations of sexual abuse, especially against such a powerful character, is incredibly courageous, difficult and involves many personal risks,” said Julie Ann Rivers-Cochran, Executive Director of Army of Survivors, an organization founded by survivors formed after the failure of the Olympic system to treat sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, a physician with USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee. “Peng Shuai should be praised, believed and given the utmost protection through trauma-informed support and a survivor-centered investigation, if she so chooses, that takes her claims and safety seriously. The IOC’s response did not involve any of these elements – further evidence of its ad hoc and flawed approach to human rights.

Under its own commitment to human rights and international law, and as “the owner of the Olympic Games”, the IOC has an urgent responsibility to prioritize the safety and freedom of Peng Shuai, and other athletes and individuals traveling in two months to China for the Games. Beijing winter 2022, the SRA mentioned. This includes using her powerful leverage to urge the Chinese government to open an independent and transparent investigation into Peng’s sexual assault allegations if it so chooses.

Unlike the IOC, other sport governing bodies, player associations and top professional athletes have sounded the alarm bells in favor of Peng Shuai. Steve Simon, President and CEO of the Women’s tennis association (WTA), which hosts several tournaments in China, issued statements calling for verifiable proof of Peng’s safety and a full investigation into his allegations, saying his “relationship with China is at a crossroads.”

“Steve Simon and the WTA show how a sports federation can support athletes and defend human rights, putting the needs of players ahead of one of their most valuable partnerships,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “The IOC should match the WTA in telling China it will move the 2022 Olympics unless Peng and his family can speak freely, without restraint.”

Peng Shuai’s precarious and unclear situation proves how easily the IOC’s partnership with China can present real risks to the safety and health of athletes. The Sport & Rights Alliance joins its partners Human Rights Watch, Army of Survivors, World Association of Players, and other human rights defenders, calling on the IOC to use its influence to ensure the immediate safety of Peng Shuai.

The signatory organizations of the Sport & Rights Alliance

  • Army of Survivors
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Football supporters Europe
  • Human Rights Watch
  • The International Trade Union Confederation
  • Transparency International Germany
  • World Association of Players, UNI Global Union


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