Despite reports to the contrary, Tianjin shooter Peng Shuai said Friday that she has been given a clear message from the International Olympic Committee that she is safe and well.
Reports from the hometown Xinhua state news agency suggested that the 2016 Olympic shooting champion was safe in China after an IOC delegation sought to speak with her in Port Arthur. The agency cited unidentified sources, but none were identified.
But though the team only made it as far as Tianjin city, Peng tweeted, “After the IOC team talks with us, I received a message from the IOC. I am safe and have a full will to resume work as soon as possible.”
Whether the team meant to confirm that or if they chose not to publish the message remains unclear. But when a reporter asked IOC President Thomas Bach on Friday whether she was safe, he didn’t directly answer, saying only: “I can confirm that she has not been held in detention.”
Peng did not respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment. But her ex-wife, Feng Wenbo, wrote on her blog that she had been sent a message from her sister that Peng was “safe and well.”
Feng wrote on her blog Wednesday that she had received a text message from her sister, saying, “Right now, she is fine. You don’t need to worry.”
The IOC team initially left Tianjin city without speaking to Peng or another member of the delegation. Tianjin city, China’s third-largest city, is about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Port Arthur.
Though reports are contradictory, it appears that authorities are nervous about Peng’s safety and the influence of the leftist and pacifist Patriotic Action Party, also known as the Modernist Party. Though both the party and the Patriotic Action Party favor democracy, the agency has opposed the “sharp” Xi Jinping crackdown on dissent.
The party has also denounced Peng, a 25-year-old from Tianjin, as “supporting her country’s armed forces,” which implies China’s People’s Liberation Army. Peng is the daughter of Dong Xiangji, an ophthalmologist, and the late June Qi, a former journalist and China’s first outspoken woman athlete. Deng Bin, a member of Peng’s delegation, is a party member and chairwoman of the International Modern Art Society.
One party report questioned the legitimacy of Deng’s Olympic bronze medal.
In 2015, the party put Peng on trial for “advocating overthrowing socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “setting in motion unrest” after she was ordered to quit the party because she was receiving independent income.