Israeli chess players denied entry into Saudi Arabia for tourney

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Saudi Arabia is a place where there are restrictions on the liberty of women.

Israel and Saudi Arabia share a common fear of Iran's attempts to increase its influence in the region. As stated by FIDE after combined efforts between FIDE officials and Saudi Arabian authorities, visas for players from Iran and Qatar were secured.

Ukrainian chess grandmaster Anna Muzychuk pulled out of the The King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship in Riyadh when told she would be compelled to wear an abaya, the full-length robes women are required to adorn in public in Saudi Arabia.

'Not to play by someone's rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature.

The Israel Chess Federation said Tuesday it is seeking compensation from the organisers of a tournament in Saudi Arabia, after the Gulf state refused to issue visas for its players.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the tournament for the first time almost two years after the country's top cleric issued a religious edict against playing the board game. Similarly, top Iranian clerics have also decried the game, saying it can lead to gambling, which is not permissible in Islam.

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"While, FIDE officials did refer to the boycott of Israeli athletes in the opening ceremony today, as the sponsoring body FIDE should make clear to the Saudi hosts that it will not be complicit with discrimination against or a boycott of any team regardless of its national origin", Greenblatt added in a statement.

More than 240 players - both men and women - from over 70 countries are attending. "To organize a chess tournament in a country where basic human rights aren't valued is terrible", Hikaru Nakamaru, the U.S. number three player, said in November.

The Saudi authorities informed FIDE that the visas for Qatari players will be issued and they also proposed that for security reasons the Qatari players should play under the FIDE flag. There are 16 players from Saudi Arabia.

Anna Muzychuk, 27, from Lviv, Ukraine is the World No 1 in two speed disciplines - rapid and blitz - and shocked the chess world when she announced that she would not be competing in the championships.

Women are reportedly being allowed to wear dark blue or black formal pants and high-necked blouses, avoiding Saudi rules of dress that require female residents and most visitors to wear loose-fitting, long robes known as "abayas".

The federation said this was "a first for any sporting event in Saudi Arabia".

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