The World Chess Federation (FIDE) released a statement on Monday ahead of the King Salman World Blitz and Rapid Championships clarifying that entry visas were issued to Qatari and Iranian players.
The statement came amidst false rumors and accusations that players from both countries were denied entry visas into Saudi Arabia because of political differences.
“For the first time, ground-breaking special arrangements have been made to issue visas upon arrival for over 200 persons, including the players of Iran and Qatar,” the statement read.
FIDE mentioned that although the visa process lies exclusively with the national immigration authorities of every country, they have actively supported and proposed measures “to make the process as smooth as ever, especially taking into account the very short time available for preparing the championships.”
“Any publication on the internet stating that visas for players from Iran and Qatar have been “refused” is completely wrong. The fact that players from Iran and Qatar may decide not to participate, after consulting their own authorities, is clearly their own individual decision,” the FIDE statement said.
The world’s highest-rated chess player and World Champion in classical chess, Magnus Carlsen, will take part in the five-day Championships taking place in Riyadh starting on Tuesday.
The incumbent World Rapid and Blitz Champions, Sergey Karjakin from Russia and Vassily Ivanchuk from Ukraine, along with over 180 top grandmasters have confirmed their participation in what is going to be the strongest open events of the year, the Saudi Gazette reported.