Olympics boss' staggering response to question about Peng Shuai

IOC president Thomas Bach (pictured right) during a press conference and (pictured left) Peng Shuai smiling to the crowd.
IOC president Thomas Bach (pictured right) is set to meet Peng Shuai (pictured left) during the Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)

Olympics president Thomas Bach has appeared to play down any safety concerns for Peng Shuai after he claimed she has been able to move freely in Beijing ahead of his planned dinner with the tennis player.

Peng caused international concern when she disappeared from public view for around three weeks in December after making sexual assault allegations against a former Chinese premier.

'AWFUL TO SEE': Winter Olympics rocked by 'sickening' scenes

The allegation was quickly removed from the internet under China's strict control.

While she has since reappeared in public, after a video call with Bach in attempt to allay safety concerns, there are still lingering worries that she is being censored considering she later denied ever making the allegations.

Bach has since said he will meet with the 36-year-old doubles champion inside the Winter Olympics bubble in Beijing.

However, after another video call earlier in the week, Bach has claimed Peng is able to move freely in Beijing.

“We know from her explanations during the video conferences that she is living here in Beijing,” Bach said.

Before he added: “that she can move freely, that she’s spending time with her family and friends.”

He said Peng's physical safety was “maybe the most important human right.”

Peng Shuai (pictured right) celebrating a point during a match.
Peng Shuai (pictured right) is set to meet with IOC president Thomas Bach in the biosecurity bubble of the Winter Olympic Games. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Bach also said he would support an investigation into her allegations if Peng called for it.

"If she wants to have an inquiry we would also support her in this. But it's her life, it's her allegations," Bach added.

"We will know more about her physical integrity and mental state when we meet her in person."

Peng Shuai protest causes stir at Australian Open

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has taken the hardline step of suspending tournaments in China after the Peng drama.

Tennis Australia (TA) were quick to come under fire during the Australian Open after fans were asked to remove 'Peng Shuai' T-shirts in Melbourne Park.

The organisation claimed there could be no commercial or political signs in Melbourne Park.

Melbourne based activists hand out "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts outside Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was among the many to take aim at Tennis Australia over the debacle, calling the move "cowardly".

“This is not a political statement, this is a human rights statement,” she said on the Tennis Channel.

“I think they (TA) are wrong on this. I just find it really weak.

“Just really capitulating on this issue from the Aussies, letting the Chinese really dictate what they do at their own slam for their own player, the player that has been there (Melbourne Park) before."

In the same segment, tennis reporter Jon Wertheim suggested there were ulterior motives at play for Tennis Australia due to their Chinese sponsorships.

TA boss Craig Tiley later announced the Australian Open would allow the show of support, despite continued criticism over how the situation was handled.

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