The head of the English Chess Federation said Saudi Arabia should be stripped of the right to host chess world championships due to discrimination against Israeli players: “This contract for the World Rapid Chess Championship was signed on the understanding that the Saudis would ensure that Israeli masters would be able to play.”
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Head of the English Chess Federation Dominic Lawson said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia should be stripped of the right to host chess championships after Israeli players were denied visas for a competition in Riyadh. “This contract for the World Rapid Chess Championship was signed on the understanding that the Saudis would ensure that Israeli masters would be able to play,” said Lawson.
“The fact that this has not happened means FIDE should refuse to award further such events to the Kingdom, despite the generosity of the Saudi prize fund,” continued Lawson. “Imagine if the Saudis had bid for the FIFA World Cup and then barred an Israeli team that had qualified: that is an exact analogy.”
The four-day tournament began on Tuesday. Seven Israeli chess players reportedly requested visas to participate in the event. “The event is not a world championship if they prevent chess players from several countries from taking part,” Israel Chess Federation Spokesman Lior Aizenberg told the Reuters news agency. “Every chess player should have the right to participate in an event on the basis of professional criteria, regardless of their passports, their place of issue or the stamps they bear.”