Tunisia grants seven-year-old Israeli visa to take part in chess tournament
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Tunisia grants seven-year-old Israeli visa to take part in chess tournament

Officials backtrack having previously refused to allow Liel Levitan into country to compete in the World School Individual Championships

Liel Levitan
Liel Levitan

The Tunisian Chess Federation has agreed to allow a seven-year-old Israeli girl to participate in an international tournament in Tunisia – having previously refused to grant her a visa.

Following pressure from the FIDE World Chess Federation, Tunisian authorities backtracked on their initial decision to refuse entry for Liel Levitan to take part in the World School Individual Championships next year in Sousse, France’s National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, said Friday in a statement. Tournament hosts were pressured into reversing their decision, according to the report.

Many Arab countries place limitations on Israelis’ representation in sports and cultural events, prompting protests by Israel and professional associations that view it as political interference contrary to international standards on sportsmanship.

The Tunisian Chess Federation issued a circular Tuesday stating that “players from all countries are welcome, without exception.” FIDE threatened to revoke Tunisia’s privileges to host the match, the report said.

The issue of Israel’s participation drew international attention last month after the pro-Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs launched an online campaign asking to ensure participation for Levitan, who won the Girls U7 category in the European School Individual Chess Championship in July, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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