July 15, 2019

Chess Tournament Moved From Saudi Arabia to Russia After Concerns Over Israeli Team Entry

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Saudi Arabia has been barred from the Fédération lnternationale des Échecs (FIDE) from hosting an international chess tournament in December after a couple of Israelis expressed concerns that they couldn’t be guaranteed entry into the country to participate.

FIDE announced in a Nov. 30 tweet that the tournament would take place in Russia instead of Saudi Arabia on Dec. 25-31. FIDE director general Emil Sutovsky told the Times of Israel that the reason for the move was 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.”

In November, two Israeli chess players, with help from The Lawfare Project, wrote to the FIDE that they were worried that they wouldn’t be able to participate in the tournament, citing the fact they were among the seven Israelis that Saudi Arabia prevented from entering the tournament.

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,” Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement. “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.”