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Shores of Tripoli

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I'm still on the fence regarding FIDE's announcements that they are planning to hold their 2004 world championship tournament in Libya. Money to chessplayers is good. A tournament that could move us toward unification is good. Using sport to encourage the opening of political doors is good. Being a sport USED by a dictator to fool people into thinking he is opening doors is bad.

Imagine this press release: "As a gesture to the global community and to chess, Libya will welcome players from Israel and those who have visited Israel to the 2004 world championship. These restrictions will henceforth be lifted in the spirit of FIDE's motto, gens una sumus."

Great! Let's go to Libya! I'm still not shaking Khaddafi's bloody hand, but it would be an achievement of sorts. Still ridiculous, still damaging to the sport's reputation, still harmful to bringing serious corporate sponsorship into the game, but progress.

But it appears that instead of that, FIDE may stick its head in the sand. They are prepared to split the event into two: one in Libya and one in Malta where the Jews will play. How nice of them. So chess concedes morality for a few bucks yet again. Right now FIDE is asking for three special visas to let Israelis into Libya to play. No word about those who have visited Israel, who are currently forbidden entry as well.

Many countries are now making moves to welcome Libya back into the fold despite Khaddafi's continued control of the country. (In other places at other times they might have demanded the dictator in question relinquish control at least symbolically.) In light of all the movement inside and regarding Libya I'd be willing to support the tournament in Libya if they lift the visa restrictions for the tournament. Without even that tiny concession, what's to support?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 8, 2004 8:54 AM.

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