The 2017 World Chess Championships will be held in Tehran, and Iran has told Fide (the chess governing body) that all female participants must wear a hijab.
Fide’s Commission for Women’s Chess submitted to Iran’s demand without question, instructing all participants to respect “cultural differences” and follow the rules.
Since 1979, Iranian law has required that all women wear hijabs in public. This discriminatory rule is enforced by the nation’s “morality police,” and women who refuse to comply are subject to arrest, fines, and public scolding.
Needless to say, the Grandmasters are outraged. Many have flat out refused to attend the 64-player tournament scheduled for February 2017.
“This violates all what sports means,” argues Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Carla Heredia. “Sports should be free of discrimination by sex, religion, and sexual orientation.”
Chairwoman Susan Polgar of Fide’s Commission for Women’s Chess continues to insist that players respect cultural differences:
“I have traveled to nearly 60 countries,” says Polgar. “When I visited different places with different culture, I like to show my respect by dressing up in their traditional style of clothing. No one asked me to do it. I just do it out of respect… I personally would have no issues with wearing a head scarf as long as it is the same to all players.”
What Polgar doesn’t seem to understand is that this isn’t a game up dress up. This is Iran demanding that visitors participate in its blatant tradition of discrimination.
Fide has come under serious criticism for its blind acceptance of sexual discrimination; but in my opinion what is even more shocking is the organization’s decision to hold the championships in Tehran, where female participants will likely be in danger no matter what they’re wearing.
Editor’s note: This is what happens to when you try to include such a oppressive regime in the civilized world. This was a huge mistake on the part of Fide, I would not be surprised if an alternate location were set up for chess champions, without Fide’s sanction.