Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk is skipping the ongoing World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Riyadh in protest of the way women are supposedly treated as “secondary creatures” in Saudi Arabia.
Players from Israel have also allegedly been denied visas for the week-long event taking place at the Apex Convention Centre.
Those from Qatar and Iran are also absent despite being granted permission to attend.
Muzychuk, the reigning world champion in both rapid and blitz events, opted not to defend her titles as part of a protest.
“Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world but this time I feel really bad,” she said on Facebook.
“I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined.”
“I am going to lose two world champion titles, one by one.
“Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia.
“Not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature.”
Her stance comes despite modest signs of reform in Saudi Arabia under the new Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. including the allowing of women to drive from next year.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.