Global Affairs

International Chess Federation Supports Right of Israelis to Compete in all Tournaments

The new president of Athens-based Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE – World Chess Federation) reiterated his support of the right of Israelis to compete in all tournaments during a visit to Israel last week, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

Arkady Dvorkovich told the TASS news agency, “We talked about a partnership with the Israel Chess Association on big international competitions that can be held in Israel and about training young chess players.”

Dvorkovich met with top Israeli chess officials including President of the Israeli Chess Federation Moshe Slav and Director General of the FIDE Emil Sutovsky. Sutovsky is the first Israeli to hold that position in the federation.

During the meeting, the Israeli officials praised FIDE for relocating the World Blitz and Rapid Championship in December from Saudi Arabia to Russia, after the Saudis barred Israelis from competing.

At the time, FIDE released a statement saying, “FIDE rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of gender.” The federation also made clear its bylaws stipulate that only countries offering free access to all would be eligible to host tournaments.

“The State of Israel thanked us for changing the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships to St. Petersburg, in agreement with the Saudi partners, and this allowed for Israeli players to take part in the championship,” Dvorkovich said with respect to the 2018 competition.

Also during the meeting, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) said that it would support the Israeli Chess Federation (ICF) in order to improve the caliber of competition.

“We hope that our support will ensure the participation of Israelis in the most prestigious of tournaments, bring about new victories and especially contribute to the popularity of chess and the development of cultural ties,” Dr. Haim Ben-Yakov, CEO of the EAJC, said of the decision to back the ICF. “We are confident that Israeli chess players are the best ambassadors of goodwill.”

The FIDE’s stand to back Israeli players in international competitions comes at a time that Malaysia is under fire for refusing to allow Israelis to compete in the World Para Swimming Championships this summer.

So far, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has expressed disappointment in Malaysia’s decision but has not indicated if it will take any corrective action.

[Photo: chrisgj6 / Flickr ]