Tunisian Anti-Israel Gambit Could Backfire

YERUSHALAYIM -

Tunisia could forfeit its turn to host a 2019 world chess championship if it does not relent on its refusal to grant a visa to a seven-year-old Israeli contestant, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) has warned.

Tunisia, which maintains no diplomatic ties with Israel, does not permit Israelis to enter its borders, and so far, has not made an exception for Liel Levitan, a prodigy from Haifa who recently won the European School Individual Chess champion in her age group.

FIDE secretary Polina Tsedenova said the organization has been seeking to rectify the situation:

“We have requested an urgent explanation from the Tunisian Chess Federation,” Tsedenova wrote in a statement. “We are also sending them a separate letter requesting written confirmation that the 2019 World Schools Championship, which is scheduled to take place in Tunisia, will provide visas to all participants. Only after that will the organization of the tournament be confirmed for them.”

The incident is certainly not without precedent. A few months ago, Israelis were barred from a World Chess Championship in Saudi Arabia.

On Friday, the International Judo Federation disqualified the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia from hosting two international tournaments because of their discrimination against Israelis.