Missing tennis star Peng Shuai appeared in public Sunday at a youth tournament in Beijing, according to photos released by the organizer, as the Communist Party of China tried to quell fears abroad about Peng after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault.
The post by the China Open on the Weibo social media service made no mention of Peng's disappearance or her accusation. Peng was shown standing beside a court, waving and signing oversized commemorative tennis balls for children.
Video of the event was also posted on social media by state-run media, along with another video posted Saturday that appears to show Peng at a restaurant.
The appearances followed an announcement by the editor of a party newspaper Saturday on Twitter, which can't be seen by most internet users in China, that the three-time Olympian would "show up in public" soon.
The chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, Steve Simon, released a statement Saturday questioning Peng's freedom after the release of the restaurant video.
"While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference," Simon said. "This video alone is insufficient. As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai's health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads."
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach held a video call Sunday with Peng, who said she "is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time," according to the IOC.
"I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern. She appeared to be relaxed. I offered her our support and to stay in touch at any time of her convenience, which she obviously appreciated," Emma Terho, the chair of the International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission, said Sunday.
Dave Haggerty, the International Tennis Federation president and International Olympic Committee member, also released a statement Sunday saying the federation's "primary concern is Peng Shuai's safety and her well-being."
"The videos of her this weekend appear to be a positive step, but we will continue to seek direct engagement and confirmation from Peng Shuai herself that she is safe and well," Haggerty said.
The Communist Party has faced mounting appeals from tennis stars and the sport's professional tour to prove Peng, a former No. 1-ranked women's doubles player, is safe and able to speak freely.
Roger Federer on Saturday became the latest star player to voice concern about Peng.
"She's one of our tennis champions, a former world No. 1, and clearly it's concerning,'' Federer told Sky Italia. "I hope she's safe. The tennis family sticks together, and I've always told my children as well that the tennis family is my second family. I've been on tour for 20-25 years and I love the tour, I love the people that are there, [they] are special, the players as well, and she's one of them."
The controversy is politically awkward as the Chinese capital prepares to hold the Winter Olympics in February. China's Foreign Ministry has repeatedly disavowed any knowledge of Peng's case and denied knowing about the outcry over her disappearance.
Peng, 35, posted a statement on social media earlier this month accusing Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the party's Standing Committee, the ruling inner circle of power, of forcing her to have sex despite repeated refusals.
CGTN, the English-language arm of China Central Television that is aimed at foreign audiences, distributed a statement this week it said came from Peng that retracted the accusations against Zhang. The editor of the party newspaper Global Times, Hu Xijin, wrote Saturday on Twitter that Peng "stayed in her own home freely'' and would "show up in public and participate in some activities soon.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.