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IOC holds in-person meeting with Peng Shuai following concerns over disappearance

(BEIJING) — The president of the International Olympic Committee said he held a face-to-face meeting with Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star who disappeared from social media after accusing a former top Chinese Communist Party official of sexual assault.

In a statement Monday, the IOC said its president, Thomas Bach, had dinner with Peng on Saturday at the Olympic Club in Beijing. IOC member Kirsty Coventry and the former IOC chair of the athletes’ commission were also there.

later that evening, Peng attended the mixed curling match between China and Norway with Coventry, according to the statement.

Though Peng did not qualify for the Winter Olympics, the IOC said she told Bach that she will attend several Olympic events over the coming days.

The IOC said the meeting followed “a series of telephone conversations with Peng Shuai over the past few months, which started on 21 November.”

On Nov. 2, 2021, a post from Peng’s verified account on Weibo — a Chinese social media platform — was published. In it, she accused Zhang Gaoli, the former vice premier of the Chinese Communist Party, of sexual assault, and said she had a years-long affair with him.

“I have no evidence, and it is impossible to leave evidence at all. … You are always afraid of what recorder I bring, leaving evidence or something,” the post read. “But even if I become like an egg hitting against a rock and like moths extinguished in the flame, I will tell the truth about you.”

Shortly after it was published, the post disappeared, and so did Peng. The athlete became entirely absent on social media, sparking concern from the tennis community and from fans around the world.

On Nov. 17, Chinese state-run media released an email allegedly from Peng to the global Women’s Tennis Association. In it, Peng denied the sexual assault allegations and said she was OK, just “resting at home.”

WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon, whom the email was addressed to, told ABC News in November that he had a “hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.”

On Nov. 19, the United Nations called for an investigation into Peng’s sexual assault allegations, and that same day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki asked China to provide proof of Peng’s whereabouts.

Two days later, Bach said he held a video call with Peng. The IOC released an image of the video call and said in a statement that Peng said she was doing fine.

In the IOC’s statement Monday, Bach said he invited Peng to visit the IOC and The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and she accepted. Coventry and Peng also agreed they would remain in contact, the statement said, “and all three agreed that any further communication about the content of the meeting would be left to her discretion.”

ABC News’ Catherine Thorbecke contributed to this report.

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