The International Olympic Committee has revealed it has spoken with Peng Shuai and has arranged to meet with her in person at the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month.
If she is to appear at the Games, it will be extremely an noteworthy occasion in this mysterious saga.
Peng faded from the public eye for almost three weeks at the end of last year after accusing China’s former Vice Premier Zhang Ghaoli of sexual misconduct.
Concerns spread around the world as more days of silence went by, resulting in a number of high profile players including Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka rallying for answers on social media.
Soon after, pictures of Peng at social events, including an executive dinner and a tennis event in Beijing, were released by Chinese government-controlled media on Twitter.
A spokesperson for the IOC said in a statement to AFP that contact had been kept up between the Olympic body and the Chinese tennis star during concerns over her wellbeing.
They initially spoke back in November when Peng appeared on a video call with IOC President Thomas Bach.
The legitimacy of the video call was questioned at the time.
A letter purportedly written by the former doubles world number one also raised a lot of eyebrows, while emails sent from Peng to Women’s Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon were questioned.
Simon concluded the player was “not free from censorship or coercion” based on the content of her emails and stressed he and the WTA remain “deeply concerned” over her wellbeing.
The two-time Grand Slam doubles winner recently took part in an interview with a Singaporean newspaper, where she denied making any accusations against Ghaoli and stressed she was “very free” and not under surveillance.
Earlier this week, a group of spectators at the Australian Open were forced to remove T-shirts sporting the words ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’
Citing the rules of not permitting “political slogans” at matches, Tennis Australia received huge backlash for banning the garments, including direct criticism from Martina Navrátilová.
The sporting body has since doubled back on its decision and have permitted fans to wear the T-shirts, providing there is no “intent to disrupt” the tournament.
In the statement released by the IOC, Peng reportedly said she is “looking forward to the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and intends to follow the competitions and her fellow Chinese Olympians closely.”
The Games will get underway on February 4th and run until the 20th. It has been announced when or in which capacity Peng will meet with the IOC.