Anna Muzychuk, the 27-year-old chess champion and the winner of 2016 world championships in rapid chess and blitz chess, has attracted attention before a tournament in Saudi Arabia.
The Ukrainian girl surrendered her both titles without challenge along with the chance at a significant payday in the Saudi Arabia-hosted world championship games. She explained that she does so in protest against the Saudi discrimination against the women.
Muzychuk believes that women in Saudi Arabia are treated as second-class citizens and this is what she can’t manage to bear. Muzychuk announced her decision to abstain from the games in Saudi Arabia in a statement in Facebook post. “[I decided] not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature,” part of the protesting statement read.
In a few days I am going to lose two World Champion titles – one by one. Just because I decided not to go to Saudi…
The decision was described valor and brave because passing on such a tournament for a professional player and such a prime would not be what all can do. She, however, decided to remain on her disciplines against the controversial decision to hold the games in Saudi Arabia.
She doesn’t feel right traveling to a country, along with her chess pro sister, that doesn’t allow women to walk in public unaccompanied by men, forces them to dress in abayas — cloaks that conceal women’s skin and bodies — and only in September decided for the first time that it was OK for women to drive cars.
In a talk with BBC World Service, Muzychuk also said “I think that the championships of such a level, world championships, shouldn’t be organized in the country where human rights and, especially the rights of women, are violated.”
According to the Independent, Saudi Arabia paid $1.5 million to host the rapid chess and blitz chess championships, four times more than the usual fee as a form of bribery. The monarchy is famous for its suppression against women, minorities and religious groups and supports for terrorist militia across the world.