The Fédération lnternationale des Échecs (FIDE) decided to cancel this month’s World Blitz and Rapid [Chess] Championship in Riyadh after Israeli players contacted the sport’s governing body, pointing out that when, the same tournament was held last December in the Saudi capital, they were denied visas to enter the country to compete.
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the Kingdom does not recognise Israel and does not permit Israeli nationals to enter the country.
In October, lawyers acting for the Israeli players wrote to FIDE, pointing out that the Federation’s inability to secure entry visas for Israeli nationals last year meant that the organisation was in breach of its own policies and statutes.
Official FIDE policy “rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of gender”, while its statutes say that events sanctioned by the Federation can only be hosted “by Federations where free access is generally assured to representatives of all Federations.”
The Israeli nationals were supported by the Lawfare Project, an American non-profit think tank and litigation fund which works to protect the human and civil and rights of Jewish and pro-Israel communities worldwide.
Brooke Goldstein, the executive director of The Lawfare Project, said:
“We couldn’t just sit and wait for FIDE to do the right thing – we are proud to have supported this action which ensures that no chess player will be banned from a tournament because of their nationality.
“It is hard to believe that in 2018, a country could be allowed to host an international event while practicing such blatant discrimination, but I welcome FIDE’s decision to make sure that last year’s scandal will not be repeated.”
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