Saudi Arabia denied visas to Qatari Israeli and players


As the world’s elite chess players gather in Riyadh for the first time to prepare for battle, Saudi Arabia has called checkmate before any pieces have been moved.

Claims by Qatari Chess Association that Saudi Arabia denied visas to Qatari nationals for the King Salman Blitz and Rapid Championship, set to take place this week in one of the biggest chess tournaments, has been dismissed by the world chess federation (Fide).

It said in a statement that the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia named the three Qatari players for whom visas were issued: Mohammed Naser Al Sayed, Mohammed Ahmed Al Muthahaka and Shin Zhu.

“Any publication on the internet stating that visas for players from Iran and Qatar have been ‘refused’ is completely wrong. The fact that players from Iran and Qatar may decide not to participate, after consulting their own authorities, is clearly their own individual decision,” said an official statement from Fide.

Other claims were made that the Qatari nationals were allowed to participate only under the federation’s flag and that Israeli nationals were given both visas and the right to represent their country.

The seven Israeli players that qualified for the championship, however, were denied entry to the country as part of Saudi Arabia’s stance to not engage in diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Read the statement by Fide, that reminded everyone that Qatar is not only allowed to play but to represent their country,” said Suood Al Qahtani, political adviser to the King’s Court in Saudi Arabia.

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