A human rights group issued a report Wednesday accusing the International Olympic Committee of “backroom human rights deals” in its treatment of Olympic figure skater Peng Shuai, whose mother is Chinese head coach Cui Shuang.
Peng, 27, was banished by the IOC two years ago after complaining that her coach mistreated her. But the IOC instead returned her passport and cut her from its ranks when she refused to back down.
Human Rights Watch recommended boycotting the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and calling for her reinstatement in order to show the Olympics were a haven for human rights.
“The Olympic Committee has pursued a strategy of casting itself as the world’s defender of human rights,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Yet it has done so behind closed doors, closing its eyes to Peng Shuai’s extraordinary sacrifice and extreme mistreatment.”
Peng grew up in Canada and became an outstanding figure skater. She represented China in the 2002 Winter Olympics, representing the city of Beijing. In 2009, while attending the International Skating Union’s All-Around Stars Competition, she accused Cui of tormenting her. Last year she failed to make the China team for the Sochi Games, which she had hoped to win. Her mother told the People’s Daily that she was her daughter’s “angel,” but both missed the Olympics.
The IOC ignored Peng’s pleas for reinstatement, explaining the head coach’s power had shifted to an individual coach. A letter from one of her supporters, Montreal-based lawyer Michael Sprung, said that after becoming part of the Olympics “Peng became a scapegoat for people frustrated with the position of the Chinese hockey federation after their win in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.”
The IOC did not comment directly on the organization’s China policy, but IOC president Thomas Bach told reporters Wednesday, “We always look at the broader picture of the relationship between the IOC and a national Olympic Committee, with a view to seeing a positive improvement of the atmosphere. In this case it’s clear that there was improvement.”
Bach also said there would be “some positive events” that will be announced in the coming weeks, “and we trust you” that would make it “a success.”
Peng had no further role in Chinese Winter Games in 2022, and is trying to play hockey in Germany this year.
This article is written by Kelly Lawler from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].