Friday, September 30, 2016


It's not often you hear about an upset in the heady world of international chess but a storm is currently brewing around the Women's game. The governing body of that sport/game recently announced that it was to hold the world championship in Iran and reminded competitors that they must respect "cultural differences", i.e. wear a head scarf. The wearing of a hijab has been a legal requirement for women in Iran since the country was taken over by an Islamic theocratic regime in 1979 , women found not wearing one face arrest, fines or even corporal punishment. Quite understandably a large number of the grandmasters have said that they will boycott the event.

Personally, I don't see any difference between the Iranian regime discriminating against Women and the South African regime discriminating against black people, both equally repugnant and both obviously opposed to any reasonable societal standard. I supported the sporting boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era and I support a boycott of Iran on precisely the same grounds, as far as non-essential collaboration with such regimes goes, i.e. things like sport, I wouldn't ever go there. For the same reason I am against Qatar hosting the football World Cup in 2022 (not that corruption in our own UK game is any better). If the Governments of such regimes wish to have their own events, i.e. tournaments that "respect" their antiquated views on discrimination, then they should crack on, I'm sure they'd be great fun, just don't expect many foreign visitors.

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