Former Chinese official accused of sexual assault by tennis player Peng Shuai was pivotal figure in Beijing’s landing upcoming Winter Olympics

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A video call between the head of the International Olympic Committee and Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai is sparking renewed discussion over a former senior official accused of sexual assault in a post on the athlete’s social-media account – who played a key role in arranging the upcoming . winter Olympics.

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,Zhang Gaoli kept a low profile but was considered a powerful and skilled technocrat.,

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Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy chief and retired member of the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee, kept a relatively low profile for an officer of his rank. But during his tenure he was regarded as a powerful and skilled technocrat, and was tasked with handling some of Beijing’s top priorities, among which was managing China’s bid for the 2022 Games.

According to IOC documents, Zhang led a steering group to “guide, support and oversee the 2022 bid”. The steering group included “heads of all relevant ministries”, the document says, and their role in it put them in contact with the highest-ranking Olympic officials, including IOC President Thomas Bach.

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The Chinese government’s announcements also identified Zhang as the head of the steering group, who he said had instructed everything from stadium construction to transportation before handing over the work to his successor in 2018.

Tennis star Peng Shuai is shown in public for the first time since his disappearance in early November, in a video posted by Chinese state media reporters. Peng has raised global concern after a sexual harassment allegation against a retired senior Chinese official. Photo: Twitter/HuXijin_GT

Allegations of sexual harassment against 75-year-old Zhang first surfaced on November 2 in a post on Ms. Peng’s verified account on Twitter-like Weibo platforms. The post disappeared after about 20 minutes, and searches for her name on the popular Chinese social-media platform have since been blocked.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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