BEIJING That’s how you hide something. On Monday, the International Olympic Committee announced that Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai had met IOC President Thomas Bach. Coincidentally, Peng had also given his second interview to foreign language media since November, to L’Equipe in France. She also appeared as a spectator at a mixed doubles curling match one night and then figure skating the next. Why, how could something be wrong?

That’s how you hide something. Peng’s original social media post on Weibo was a heartfelt, tortured and detailed post about his relationship with Zhang Gaoli, a former senior Chinese government official and a driving figure in Beijing’s preparation for these Olympics. She said he pushed her into having sex – sexual assault, basically – that he betrayed his wife, that it almost drove her to thoughts of suicide. Everything was humanly heartbreaking. You could feel his pain.

Peng’s name was almost immediately censored on several social networks in China. The mail disappeared within half an hour. She too has disappeared. After two weeks, the cry started: Where is Peng Shuai? The IOC claimed that an email written in her name was proof that she was fine, despite all the evidence. The Olympics were approaching.

That’s how you hide something. On Monday, L’Equipe aired an exclusive interview with Peng. She called it all a huge misunderstanding. She was quoted saying things like, “Sexual assault? I never said someone sexually assaulted me. “I never disappeared.” “Why this concern? She deleted the original post, she said, because she wanted to.

She said: “I would like to say first of all that feelings, sport and politics are three very different things. My love issues, my private life, shouldn’t be involved in sports and politics. And sport should not be politicized because when it is, it often means turning your back on the Olympic spirit, and it goes against the will of the world of sport and of the athletes.

It sounded like something the IOC would say, or the organizers of the Beijing Olympics would say, or something the Chinese government would say, during those Olympics.

It should be noted that the newspaper had to submit questions in advance and agreed to print the questions and answers verbatim, and the translator was an official from the Chinese Olympic Committee. Also note that L’Equipe is the property of Amaury Sport Organisation, France’s leading sports promoter, heavily involved in the success of Paris’ Olympic bid in 2024. You don’t need to know the words to hum the music.

That’s how you hide something. The IOC questioned Peng for days and promised Bach would meet her, and chose Kirsty Coventry, a loyal IOC member who is also a former head of the organization’s tame and well-maintained Athletes’ Commission, to join him. IOC spokesman Mark Adams was asked if the organization believed his accusations in Peng’s message.

He said: “You saw the words in the interview she gave to L’Equipe. I think we also have to listen to her and we have to read what she says. He said, “I don’t think it’s up to us to judge, one way or another, just like it’s not up to you to judge either, one way or another. It was an arching, condescending and shameful performance.

Distinguished exiled Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was interviewed by The Guardian a few days ago, and asked about Peng.

“She is in the very safe hands of the Communist Party,” he said. “They will make sure she behaves exactly according to the party. She may already think she made a mistake by exposing this very deep and dark relationship. She has put her family, her friends, her career on the line. There is no more spirit for her. She has become another person, and everything she tells you is not true.

It seemed a heartbreaking reality. Imagine your family and friends being in danger because you told the truth. What would you do to protect them? The answer for so many people would be anything.

The world, or enough, is here in Beijing. China is trying to exert control, awkwardly, awkwardly.

When you listen to state-controlled Chinese journalists ask questions, you realize with sadness that they simply have no idea what journalism is, what the uncomfortable search for truth is. , because it would put them in danger, because it has been erased.

It’s the Olympics, and a lot of the world is here, and the athletes have been told to shut up about China because you don’t know what might happen to you, and Peng Shuai is going around the venues. She seems calm, smiling. The IOC tells you she’s fine. This should make your stomach hurt.

That’s how you hide something. You do it in front of the world.