Chess Players Forced to Compete in Hijabs At World Championship in Iran

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By Kieran Corcoran | 8:02 am, September 29, 2016

Female chess grandmasters will be forced to compete in hijabs at the world chess championship in Iran next year.

Women hoping to prove themselves the best player in the world have been told to respect “cultural differences” and cover up after the Islamic theocracy was named the host nation.

Players threatened to boycott the event in response and attacked the sport’s governing body for kowtowing to the demands of Iran’s religious police.

Visitors to Iran face fines and even arrest if they appear in public with their hair on show.

Nazi Paikidze, the US women’s champion, has already sworn not to attend the event.

According to the Daily Telegraph, she said: “It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here.

“I am honoured and proud to have qualified to represent the United States in the Women’s World Championship. But, if the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event.”

Competitors play chess in hijabs at an official event in Iran earlier this year
Competitors play chess in hijabs at an official event in Iran earlier this year

Susan Polgar, a grandmaster who chairs the international chess federation’s women’s committee, said that players should put up with the rules and that there were “beautiful choices” of hijab on offer.

She said: “I have travelled to nearly 60 countries. When I visited different places with different cultures, 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 (hijab) as long as it is the same to all players. I believe the organisers provided beautiful choices for past participants of Women’s Grand Prix.”