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Still hoping to obtain visa for World Rapid/Blitz Championships

Israeli chess team holds out hope; plans own tourney if barred by Saudis

Israel Chess Federation says it is 'outrageous' that Riyadh is allowed to host tournament while keeping out some nationalities
By JUDAH ARI GROSS Today, 9:29 pm

After apparently being barred from participating in a tournament in Saudi Arabia, the Israel Chess Federation is refusing to concede it has been checkmated in its bid to make history.

The federation said Sunday night it was still holding out hope that its players would be allowed to participate in the tournament being held in Riyadh later this week, despite being denied visas thus far.

“Even now, despite the fact that the world tournament in Riyadh begins on Tuesday, we hope and believe that FIDE (the World Chess Federation)… and the Saudis will reach an agreement regarding the participation of the Israeli chess players,” Israel Chess Federation spokesperson Lior Aizenberg said in a message.

“The Israel Chess Federation has invested great resources in the past month in order to tell the world media of our ambition that politics shouldn’t be part of the sport,” he said.

Aizenberg added that if they are indeed barred from the tournament, as it appears they will, then his group plans to organize its own championship “in the near future” for the Israeli players and “for the excellent players from around the world who support our participation in the tournament.”

Politics shouldn’t be part of the sport

On Sunday, Moshe Shalev, the interim head of the Israel Chess Federation, told The Times of Israel that the seven players had not been granted visas, despite indications last month that they would make history by being the first representatives of the Jewish state to publicly take part in an event hosted by the kingdom, which does not officially recognize the State of Israel.