ATHENS, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Israeli players have been denied visas to participate in a speed chess championship hosted by Saudi Arabia this week, a vice president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) said on Sunday.
Seven Israeli players had requested visas for the tournament on Dec. 26-30. It would have marked the first time Saudi Arabia had publicly hosted Israelis, as the country does not recognize Israel and there are no formal ties between them.
Israel Gelfer, vice president of FIDE, told Reuters in an email that visas for the Israeli players “have not been issued and will not be issued.”
He said the tournament would go ahead as planned. It was not immediately clear if other delegations had been excluded but players from Qatar had suggested they may have been rejected. Saudi Arabia’s Center for International Communication said in a statement that more than 180 players would participate but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Israel Chess Federation spokesman Lior Aizenberg said efforts were still being made “by various parties” to ensure the Israeli players took part.
“The event is not a world championship if they prevent chess players from several countries from taking part,” Aizenberg told Reuters.