Israel’s Exclusion from Chess Games in Dubai is Protested

The Chess Federation of Canada and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto have protested Israel’s exclusion from the 1986 International Chess Olympiad, to be held this fall in the United Arab Emirates.

Both have sent telegrams to the president of the world governing body of chess, the Switzerland-based Federation International des Echecs (FIDE), protesting Israel’s barring from the Olympiad, which will take place November 16 to December 3 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Dubai announced earlier this year that Israel, which has usually supplied some of the better chess players in the competition, would not be allowed to attend the Olympiad, too late for FIDE to take the games away from the UAE.

In its telegram to FIDE president Florencio Campomanes, the Wiesenthal Center said, “such a decision constitutes nothing less than a scandal and a black mark on the International Chess Federation, which should stand above and apart from politics.” The center said FIDE must have known Dubai’s policy on Israel when the Persian Gulf state was awarded the Olympiad. The Wiesenthal Center also called on the Canadian chess team to boycott the Olympiad “to help reverse this racist and purely political initiative.”

CANADIANS WON’T BOYCOTT OLYMPICS

But Chess Federation of Canada president Peter Stockhausen says the Canadian contingent of five players and one captain would not withdraw from the competition.

Stockhausen said in an interview he does not believe boycotting the Olympiad would help. But at its annual meeting in Winnipeg last month, the Federation sent its own protest to FIDE, reminding Campomanes that any country hosting the games cannot exclude another country of good standing, whatever the reason.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident. Obviously, it dragged on behind the scene,” said Stockhausen. “I would think that the UAE made a commitment that everybody could attend. What pressure they faced and from whom remains a question.”

The chess Olympiad is held every two years, he added, with every other competition held in Greece. In 1972, Israel hosted the games and much of the Eastern European bloc stayed away. “It doesn’t make any sense,” Stockhausen said. “If they didn’t want any Jewish players there, they shouldn’t have the Soviet Union. Half their players are Jewish.”

He said two resolutions were passed at the annual meeting: one, to send a protest to FIDE for “breaching its own rules,” and two, to reconsider Canada’s future participation in the Olympiad if FIDE continues to allow the rules to be broken.

The Federation, Stockhausen said, will press Canada’s representative to FIDE, J.G. Prentice, to make a last-ditch effort at persuading Dubai to include Israel.

Israel’s Consul-General in Toronto, Gideon Saguy, said he heard that several foreign chess federations are pressing FIDE either to include Israel or change the Olympiad’s venue. Saguy said the Scandinavian and Dutch teams in particular have stated that if Israel is excluded, they would boycott the competition. (See August II and August 12Bulletins for reactions in the United States.)

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