Chinese Olympian Peng Shuai reportedly went MIA earlier this month after she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
Weeks after Shui was reported missing, the International Olympic Committee based in Switzerland confirmed that they were able to talk to the three-time Olympian.
During their 30-minute video call, Shuai reportedly looked relaxed. A photo of the athlete during the call circulated online, and it shows her smiling from ear to ear.
Emma Terho, chair of the International Olympic Committee, released a statement following their conversation with Shuai.
"She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated," Terho said via the Huffington Post.
Peng Shuai's supporters are still worried about her
Earlier this month, Shuai posted a screenshot of Gaoli's text messages asking if they could be intimate with each other. The athlete shared the screenshot on Weibo, but it was deleted minutes later.
Shortly after she shared the text messages, Shuai disappeared from the public's eye, so everyone thought government officials silenced her.
But this past weekend, she told the International Olympic Committee that she was at home in Beijing and asked for her privacy for now. Shuai also, reportedly, wants to spend time with her family and friends during this time. And she also vowed to return to her beloved sport, tennis, in the near future.
According to CNN, even though Shuai has not been harmed following her allegations of sexual assault against Gaoli, there are still growing concerns about the athlete's freedom. The public is also urging authorities to investigate Shuai's claims.
Maya Wang, the senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said that the state-run media outlets are the ones controlling Shuai's story. Wang also said that the public should continue to worry about the Olympian's safety because it's not uncommon for missing Chinese individuals to appear in videos and say that they are well.
The senior researcher is convinced that state-run media outlets carefully crafted images of Shuai to convince the public that there's nothing to worry about.
Chinese government censors Peng Shuai
Lv Pin, a Chinese feminist, echoed Wang's statements and said that the government could control the athlete to the point that they could coerce her into cooperating. They may have also turned Wang into an actor, that's why she's able to pretend that she's doing well.
A spokesperson for the Women's Tennis Association also said that the videos and photos of Shuai are not enough evidence that she's safe and well. They noted that the clips do not change their call for investigation without censorship into the 35-year-old tennis superstar's allegations, according to the BBC.
Before photos and videos of Shuai circulated online, the United Nations first pressured China into giving them an update about the athlete. They also urged the Chinese government to investigate Shuai's allegations immediately.