Categorized | International, Middle East

Saudi Arabia bars Israeli chess team from competition

Flag of Saudi Arabia

NEW YORK (Press Release) — The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday called on FIDE, the World Chess Federation, to take a strong stand against Saudi Arabia for its refusal to allow entry to Israel’s chess team to participate in the World Chess Championship, which opened Tuesday in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia will be hosting this competition for two more years.

In a December 25 letter to Georgios Makropoulos, Depty Chair of FIDE, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote:

“Sports and competition should serve as a bridge between groups and nations. It is an accepted principle in competitive sports – and part of FIDE regulations – that hosts of international competitions must permit all competitors to participate. The Saudi refusal to provide visas to the Israeli team is a violation of this principle and a violation of sportsmanship.”

“While, FIDE officials did refer to the boycott of Israeli athletes in the opening ceremony today, as the sponsoring body FIDE should make clear to the Saudi hosts that it will not be complicit with discrimination against or a boycott of any team regardless of its national origin,” Greenblatt added in a statement. “FIDE must send a message that if Saudi Arabia continues with this policy, it will not be eligible to host future championships.”

Saudi Arabia initially refused to issue entry visas to Qatar and Iranian teams too, but eventually issued them in advance of the championship. The Israeli team alone has been refused entry.

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