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EXCLUSIVE: Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher will introduce legislation Tuesday to sanction the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over its alleged complicity in the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In November 2021, Peng accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her in a now-deleted social media post before she suddenly disappeared for three weeks.
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She reappeared in a December video posted by Singapore media outlet Lianhe Zaobao in which she denied ever making the claim.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and human rights groups have accused the IOC of being complicit in Peng’s disappearance as it prepares for the Winter Olympics next month.
“It was because of the international backlash over Peng’s disappearance that the IOC stepped in last year, but rather than alleviate concerns and stand with her, the IOC provided cover for the CCP,” Gallagher said in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“They held virtual meetings with Peng, and it’s said that it had taken ‘a very human and person-centered approach to her situation’,” he said, quoting a December statement made by the IOC. “It sounds exactly like something the Chinese Communist Party would say.”
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Peng appears to have once again disappeared from public life and was notably absent from one of the biggest global tennis competitions over the weekend when she missed the Australia Open.
“It’s time to call the IOC out for their complete cowardice,” Gallagher said. “They’re just allowing self-interest to dictate the terms of a massive human rights violation here.”
The Wisconsin Republican argued that it was no longer enough to call for an Olympic boycott or to even move the Games, but said it was time to slap sanctions on IOC President Thomas Bach and any other IOC official who has played a complacent role in Peng’s disappearance.
It is unclear if Gallagher will be able to sway any Democratic lawmakers to back his legislation, but should Global Magnitsky Sanctions be implemented on the Olympic committee, it could mean more than just a travel ban for top officials.
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“It would obviously have an economic impact on the IOC organization itself,” Gallagher explained. “There’s definitely a stigma associated with Magnitsky Sanctions and I think it would provoke a lot of international shame, which in this case I think is very well-deserved.”
The Winter Olympics are set to start in Beijing Feb. 4.