Yao Ming: Chinese basketball legend says Peng Shuai is in ‘fairly good shape’ at December meeting

Peng’s well-being has become a global concern after she made allegations of sexual assault against a former national leader.
“I’ve known Peng Shuai for almost 20 years,” Yao said Monday in Beijing at a press conference about the 2022 Winter Olympics. “She’s a bit younger, but we belong to the same generation of athletes.”

“We’re both from the South…and very intrigued by a winter sports competition in Shanghai – we felt like kids again,” he added in response to a question from CNN.

“She was in pretty good shape that day. We were all chatting happily and asking a lot of questions about the sport because we weren’t familiar with it.”

On December 19, a state media reporter posted a photo and clip of Yao and Peng together on a cross-country ski trip in Shanghai the day before, in which they appeared to be talking and smiling. The images were shared on Twitter, which is blocked in China.

Peng, 36, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, has been at the center of an international storm since she accused retired Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, 75, of coercing her into sex during a long-standing on-off relationship in a long-standing relationship. relation. online message in November.

Government censorship quickly deleted her post from Chinese social media and she disappeared from the public eye.

Amid growing international outcry, people affiliated with state media or the state sports system have posted numerous images to Twitter showing Peng, as well as an email allegedly written by her stating that “everything is fine” .

At the same event in December, she was photographed with Yao, Peng told Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao: “I have never spoken or written about anyone who has sexually abused me,” in her first comments to international media since the explosive explosion. accusations came. to light.

Asked if she could move freely or was concerned for her safety, Peng said she has “always been free” and has lived in her home in Beijing.

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Yao, who is now president of the state-affiliated Chinese Basketball Association, declined to comment on Peng’s allegations, which are still taboo in China.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has continued to call for a thorough and transparent investigation into Peng’s allegations and has suspended all tournaments in China for her safety.

As Deputy Prime Minister, Zhang served on the ruling Communist Party’s seven-member Politburo Standing Committee with President Xi Jinping from 2012 to 2017.

Previously, CNN had repeatedly reached out to both Peng and China’s State Council Information Office, which handles press inquiries for the central government.

Yao walks on the sidelines for Super Bowl 51 between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots in 2017.

‘A visit to China can change many perceptions’

Yao, 41, a longtime player with the Houston Rockets, also responded to a CNN question about the NBA’s reactions in China after several league members criticized Beijing’s human rights record over sensitive issues such as Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Comments from Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom and former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have led to sudden blackouts of games and calls for boycotts.
China says Winter Olympics tickets won't be sold to the general public due to Covid-19

Yao said he doesn’t know Freedom or how the Celtics star formed his opinion of China, but invited him to visit the country.

“Me or other basketball fans can be his guide all over China — and that can help him get a more complete picture of China,” he said.

“Sport builds bridges and there is definitely traffic on bridges – so sometimes we see collisions. It may take some time to resolve some issues and I think time will resolve many of them. But we want to keep the bridges intact.”

Yao goes after a rebound with Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal in 2004.
As a promotional ambassador who helped Beijing win its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, Yao dodged several questions over the US government’s announcement of a “diplomatic boycott” of the upcoming Games, which will begin in Beijing on February 4.

“The Games provide a platform for athletes and sports enthusiasts – and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

“If you hear something negative (about the Games), maybe listen to what they have to say and see if they have a point — then decide if it’s something worth listening to.”

“Seeing is believing – a visit to China can change many perceptions,” he added. “I lived in the US for 10 years – and (what I experienced) was different from what I had read about the US in books as a child.”

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