Chess Prodigy Banned from Tournament for Being Israeli

23 Jul 2018

Liel Levitan, a 7-year-old chess prodigy from Haifa, is not being permitted to participate in the World Chess Championship because the host nation, Tunisia, will not allow Israelis to compete.

Israeli athletes often face such dscrimination when competing in the Middle East or against Middle Eastern countries. For example, the International Judo Federation recently stripped the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia from hosting international tournaments due to their refusal to guarantee equal treatment for Israeli athletes. This action was taken in light of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, which failed to acknowledge the nationality of the Israeli athletes such as by flying the Israeli flag and playing HaTikvah during ceremonies for Israel’s five medalists.

Chess player Lior Aizenberg said that it was clear months ago that Israeli chess players would not be permitted to participate in the World Chess Championship. This realization led him to found the World Alternative Championship, to be held in Israel and inviting players from across Europe and the Middle East.

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