Saudi visas were issued for Iranian, Qatari players

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The statement added that the Qatari federation received an electronic message from the International Federation on Monday that the visas would be ready upon arrival at Riyadh International Airport, further enquiring about the dates of flights so that the Saudi authorities can take the necessary.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and there are no formal ties between them.

Qatar Chess Federation confirmed yesterday night that it will participate in the World Chess Championship in Saudi Arabia on December 29 and 30.

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The King Salman World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship will be held at the iconic Apex Convention Center at King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh.

Israel Chess Federation spokesperson Lior Aizenberg said Sunday the Israelis were holding out hope for a last minute reversal before the tournament kicks off on Tuesday.

The incumbent World Rapid and Blitz Champions, Sergey Karjakin from Russian Federation 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.

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Israeli chess officials said that they were considering legal action against FIDE for allowing the tournament to continue despite the Israeli players' exclusion, while Geller said that the federation could cancel the next two years of the Saudi hosting contract if Israeli players would be barred in coming years.

"The event is not a world championship if they prevent chess players from several countries from taking part", Aizenberg told Reuters.

After combined efforts of FIDE officials and Saudi Arabian authorities, visas for players from Iran and Qatar were secured, the FIDE press statement said. "Every chess player should have the right to participate in an event on the basis of professional criteria, regardless of their passports, their place of issue or the stamps they bear".

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