The World Chess Federation (FIDE) is undertaking a huge effort to include Israeli players in the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships that take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between 26th and 30th December 2017.
Seven Israeli players hoping to attend the event have submitted visa requests, FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos told Reuters.
Should their visas be granted, it would mark the first time Saudi Arabia has publicly hosted Israelis.
“We have sent their documents to the organizers and the visa status is currently pending,” Makropoulos said. “The same applies for many other chess players who are waiting for their visa invitation letters. We are making a huge effort to ensure that all players get their visas.”
If the development is positive, this would be another historic breakthrough in regard to King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships. Earlier, FIDE has announced that female participants will not have to wear hijab or abaya during the games, a first for any sporting event in Saudi Arabia.
Magnus Carlsen (Norway), the highest-rated chess player in the world and World Champion in classical chess, as well as the incumbent World Rapid and Blitz Champions — Sergey Karjakin (Russia) and Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), along with over 180 top grandmasters have confirmed their participation in Riyadh.
The four events offer a record total prize fund of US$2,000,000 with the Open events having individual prize funds of US$750,000 each and the women event having a prize fund of US$ 250,000 each.