Olympic medallist Feng Tianwei asks for Peng Shuai’s release

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Olympic athlete Feng Tianwei called for Chinese medal hope Peng Shuai to be released from prison in a call to Matt Damon’s public service announcement.

US actor Damon was speaking out against China’s judicial system.

Peng, a 50m freestyle swimmer, was jailed for stealing her coach’s phone in a case that has sparked international scrutiny.

IOC’s Patrick Baumann said it was up to the Chinese government to decide whether Peng would be released.

“These words and her call to you today are important for Ms Peng and her family to hear,” she said in the PSA that was shown during the broadcast of the 2018 Masters golf championship in Georgia.

China’s mass media outlets declined to issue a response to Feng.

Nevertheless, an IOC spokesman on Wednesday said: “The request for release was for Mr Peng.

“We do not have any comment on the matter on his behalf.”

Peng, 21, made headlines in November last year when she was detained along with her coach on suspicion of stealing a mobile phone from a coach.

Her case has led to speculation that she may have been singled out after a radio station broadcast a short film which criticised the Chinese government for ensuring its own athletes remained top of the medals table at the Olympics.

In response, China condemned the station as “an inverted spectre of the Western industry of blackmail and lobbying”.

The Chinese state’s envoy to the US has since said Peng would have been punished regardless of whether the film had been made.

Before her arrest, Peng was ranked the second-best female swimmer at the Olympics, behind compatriot Sun Yang.

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