The FIDE/World Chess Federation Handbook says, “FIDE rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of sex.”
Yet…we have this:
Schoolgirl Liel Levitan from Haifa is unable to accept an invitation to play in the World Chess Championship because host nation Tunisia will not allow Israelis to compete, it was reported Thursday.
This is not the first time Israeli chess players have been denied the opportunity to participate in international tournaments due to their nationality.
Israeli athletes often face difficulties when competing in the Middle East or against Middle Eastern countries, due to hostility toward the Jewish state.
“Just a few months ago, a World Chess Championship was due to take place in Saudi Arabia,” chess player Lior Aizenberg told Hadashot news. “It was clear to everyone that outstanding Israeli chess players would not be able to participate.”
Let’s look at what happened in Saudi Arabia:
The Israel Chess Federation said Tuesday it is seeking compensation from the organizers of a tournament in Saudi Arabia, after the Gulf state refused to issue visas for its players.
The King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships is the first international chess competition held in Saudi Arabia, perceived as a display of the conservative kingdom’s growing openness to the West.
The regulations of the organizers, the World Chess Federation (FIDE), stipulate that no player should be refused the opportunity to participate, but players from three states — Iran, Qatar, and Israel — had initially not received visas.
On Monday, FIDE announced it had “secured visas for Qatar and Iran,” though officials from the world chess body failed to reach an agreement with the Saudis to allow the Israeli players to enter the kingdom for the games.
A Saudi official said Tuesday the kingdom was “maintaining its policy” on Israel.
Riyadh “has historically not had diplomatic ties with a specific country,” spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in the US Fatimah Baeshen wrote on Twitter, without naming Israel.
FIDE’s press release on securing the visas for Qatar and Iran – which doesn’t mention the is as hypocritical as it gets:
As everybody clearly understands from the above, FIDE and the Saudi organisers are always ready to welcome any participant.
FIDE’s principle is that its World Chess Championships are a vehicle for promoting peace and development of friendship amongst all nations. FIDE will adhere to this principle and will continue to work in this direction.
They wrote that the Saudis are ready to welcome any participant knowing full well that Israelis weren’t welcome.
If FIDE is serious about its principles, it would cancel and move the Tunisia championships immediately. It is not like it hasn’t seen this behavior before. Yet it always happens.
Other sports bodies have made it clear to Arab nations that if they boycott Israel they lose the privilege of hosting their events. In every case I am aware of, the Arab nations gave in to the demands of the organizations.
One must wonder why FIDE so easily violates its own regulations in order to cave to the demands of bigots.
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