Saudi chess tournament controversy continues with Qatar 'mini-state' attack

Saudi chess tournament controversy continues with Qatar 'mini-state' attack
Saudi Arabia has brought more controversy to a little-known chess tournament being held in the kingdom after the sports authority head attacked Qatar in a speech.
2 min read
30 December, 2017
Saudi Arabia will host the tournament for the next three years [Getty]

A chess championship held in Saudi Arabia met more controversy this week, after the kingdom's sports authority chief used the tournament to launch an attack on Qatar.

Saudi General Sport Authority chairman Turki bin Abdul Mohsen al-Sheikh used the opening ceremony of the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships to attack Qatar, which is under a blockade by Riyadh and its allies.

"A mini state in the region has tried to spoil it (the tournament), claimed they didn't receive visas to enter Saudi Arabia, which welcomes everyone," Sheikh said.

It follows the delayed processing of visas for the Qatar chess team, forcing them to cancel their participation in the tournament.

The move is largely seen as politically motivated and follows reports that Saudi Arabia planned to force the Qatar team to play under the chess federation's banner rather than their national flag.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and launched a blockade on Qatar this summer, accusing Doha of having links to "terrorist groups", a claim Qatar strongly denies.

Israel's chess team were also denied visas for the tournament, leading to criticism from chess players and international media.

Ukrainian chess champion Anna Muzychuk boycotted the games due to the kingdom's strict laws governing women's dress and other restrictions.

Saudi Arabia was given the rights to host the tournament for three years.