Israelis barred from world chess tournament in Saudi Arabia

Two Israeli nationals are requesting that the international chess governing body—the Fédération lnternationale des Échecs (FIDE)—guarantee non-discrimination after they were prevented from taking part in a chess tournament in Saudi Arabia last year because of their nationality. Israeli chess grandmaster Ilya Smirin and former spokesperson for the Israeli Chess Federation Lior Aizenberg have written to FIDE requesting financial compensation and seeking assurances that it will not allow host countries to perpetrate such discrimination against Israelis again. Smirin and Aizenberg are being supported in their action by The Lawfare Project.

Saudi Arabia denied visas to seven Israeli chess players in December 2017, preventing them from competing in the World Blitz & Rapid Championships in Riyadh. Lawyers wrote to FIDE on behalf of the Israeli players on October 1. The letter made clear that their "inability to participate in this Tournament was due to FIDE's failure to secure entry visas to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Israeli nationals and, correspondingly, its failure to guarantee their equal treatment and to protect them against discrimination on the basis of their nationality."

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