Saudi chess event moved to Rus­sia

Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE -

AWorld Chess Fed­er­a­tion tour­na­ment has been moved from Saudi Ara­bia to Rus­sia af­ter con­cerns over Is­raeli play­ers be­ing barred, the fed­er­a­tion an­nounced yes­ter­day.

Is­raeli play­ers backed by a New York-based NGO, The Law­fare Pro­ject, were threat­en­ing le­gal ac­tion over not be­ing al­lowed to play in Saudi Ara­bia, which has no diplo­matic ties with the Jewish state.

The fed­er­a­tion, known as FIDE, said it de­cided to move its World Rapid and Blitz Cham­pi­onships sched­uled for De­cem­ber 25-31 to Rus­sia “due to the pol­icy adopted by Saudi or­gan­is­ers”.

The de­ci­sion was made “in spite of the gen­er­ous fi­nan­cial of­fer made by Saudi Ara­bia”, FIDE said in a state­ment.

“FIDE will no longer stage its of­fi­cial events in the coun­tries that deny en­try visa and fair treat­ment to all the el­i­gi­ble play­ers,” it said.

It added that “of­fi­cials in Riyadh could not guar­an­tee an en­try to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of all the na­tional fed­er­a­tions who had a right to par­tic­i­pate in the event”.

It is not the first time Is­raeli play­ers have raised such con­cerns.

In De­cem­ber 2017, the Is­rael Chess Fed­er­a­tion said it was seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion from the or­gan­is­ers of last year’s World Rapid and Blitz Cham­pi­onships, also in Saudi Ara­bia, af­ter the Gulf state re­fused to is­sue visas for its play­ers.

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