Last week the recently elected President of FIDE (World Chess Federation), Arkady Dvorkovich, former Russian Deputy Prime Minister under Dmitry Medvedev, and an assistant to Vladimir Putin, reiterated his organization’s commitment towards ensuring the right of Israelis to compete in its tournaments during a visit to Israel last week for the first time in his new position. While in Israel, Dvorkovich met with Moshe Slav, President of the Israeli Chess Federation and Emil Sutovsky, Director General of FIDE. Sutovsky is the first Israeli to assume the honorable title.
At the meeting, the Israeli officials thanked Dvorkovich for changing the location of the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships to St. Petersburg in Russia, which took place in December. Originally, the championship was supposed to have taken place in Saudi Arabia. However, Riyadh, which has no official diplomatic relationship with Israel, would not have allowed Israeli chess players to enter the kingdom and participate in the championship. Dvorkovich promised those who were present at the meeting that he will not let anyone prevent Israeli competitors from participating in competitions sponsored by FIDE.
"The State of Israel thanked us for changing the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships to St. Petersburg, in agreement with the Saudi partners, and this allowed for Israeli players to take part in the championship," said Dvorkovich, in an interview with TASS news agency. "We talked about a partnership with the Israel Chess Association on big international competitions that can be held in Israel and about training young chess players.”
It was also announced at the meeting that the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) has decided to financially back the Israeli Chess Federation. EAJC President, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili congratulated the new leaders of FIDE and wished them success in both developing and promoting chess, a sport that is loved by Jews all around the world. "We hope that our support will ensure the participation of Israelis in the most prestigious of tournaments, bring about new victories and especially contribute to the popularity of chess and the development of cultural ties,” said CEO of the EAJC, Dr. Haim Ben-Yakov. “We are confident that Israeli chess players are the best ambassadors of goodwill.”