Open letter from the ACP to the FIDE President, Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, 26th of May 2004 Print
Tuesday, 15 June 2004 00:00
We are publishing the Open letter from the ACP to the FIDE President, Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, 26th of May 2004.
Read Open Letter ACP Board [Wed May 26th, 18:27]


Dear Mr President,

The next FIDE World Chess Championship (WCC), to be held in Tripoli (Libya), between the 18th of June and the 13th of July 2004, is due to start soon and yet, many pressing questions remain unanswered. To begin with, although the deadline for reserve players to submit their undertakings has elapsed on the 5th of May 2004, no announcement has been made by FIDE regarding the final list of participants. Three weeks after the deadline and less than a month prior to the event, you will appreciate that such an announcement is long overdue. Secondly, the qualified players holding an Israeli passport, some of them representing a different country than Israel, are clearly concerned that they will not be allowed to enter Libya and will, as a result, simply be excluded from the World Championship.
Despite assurances from the FIDE Secretariat that visas will be granted to all participants, several facts have recently cast serious doubts on this claim.
1) On the 6th of May 2004, Associated Press have quoted Mr Mohammed Gadhafi, the President of the Libyan Olympic Committee, who also heads the Organizing Committee of the FIDE WCC, as denying that Israeli participants would be allowed inside Libya. The wording of the statement was very strong and left no doubt as to its meaning: the Israeli players are not welcome in Libya.
2) Upon inquiry at the Libyan embassy in Paris, it has been confirmed that a person applying for an entry visa to Libya should not have "an Israeli visa or a trace of passage on Israeli territory" in his or her passport, let alone have an Israeli passport. This necessarily implies that visas would be granted in exceptional conditions for the sole purpose of the FIDE World Championship, however, at this point in time, Libyan consular authorities do not seem to be aware of such exceptional measures.
3) For unclear reasons, the participants of the WCC will not be able to obtain their visas at any of the Libyan embassies in various parts of the world, but only upon arrival at the Tripoli airport. This effectively compels the Israeli participants to travel to an Arab country without possessing a visa, a most unpleasant condition given the tense geopolitical situation in the Middle East.
4) The Israeli Chess Federation has been informed by FIDE that only Israeli participants would be granted a Libyan visa, whereas accompanying persons holding the same passport, such as trainers or close relatives, will be denied entrance to Libya. This fact alone contradicts all rules of fair and equal treatment to all participants of a major sports event, it is certainly in breach with FIDE&rsquos Code of Ethics.

As the President of FIDE, an international sports federation affiliated to the IOC, it is your duty to ensure that qualified competitors from all origins are given equal access to the World Chess Championship. In view of the abovementioned difficulties, the choice of staging the most important event on the FIDE calendar in Libya is a poor one. Despite numerous open letters and press releases emanating from several national federations (namely those from the United States, Russia and Israel) and WCC participants themselves (namely the American player Boris Gulko), FIDE has consistently refused to consider reinstating Malta as a secondary venue. In the present circumstances, the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) demands that FIDE provide written evidence from the Libyan authorities, unambiguously stating that Israeli players will be granted a visa upon their arrival in Tripoli. In view of the problems that have arisen since the publication of the official invitation from the Libyan Olympic Committee, general formulas whereby the Libyan government "will pleasantly provide entry visas to all qualified participants" is no longer explicit enough. Unless that document is produced shortly, it is very unlikely that Israeli players will agree on a hazardous journey to Libya and therefore, they will be forced to renounce their participation in the WCC. At present, the assumption prevails in the chess world that this is precisely the way FIDE hopes this embarrassing problem will be settled. Such an outcome, however, would greatly tarnish the reputation of FIDE among other sports federations and would effectively render FIDE&rsquos acclaimed motto "Gens Una Sumus" totally meaningless.

It is our sincere hope that you, Mr President, will use your power to remedy this situation and will not allow the exclusion of the Israeli players from the World Chess Championship.


Joel Lautier
President of the ACP
Paris, 26th of May 2004

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