When the International Chess Federation (FIDE) announced that Iran would host the upcoming World Championships, Georgian-American chess player Nazi Paikidze immediately declared a boycott of the international tournament.
Paikidze, who holds the FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM), protested that players would be forced to comply with the Iran’s compulsory Hijab law. The country’s Islamic code mandates that all females wear a headscarf in public, which seemingly includes foreign athletes visiting for events.
“Iran has hosted chess tournaments before and women were always forced to wear a hijab,” Paikidze told CNN. “We don’t see this event being any different, forced hijab is the country’s law.
“If the venue of the championship is not changed, I will not be participating. I am deeply upset by this. I feel privileged to have qualified to represent the US at the Women’s World Chess Championship and to not be able to due to religious, sexist, and political issues is very disappointing.”
Paikidze started a Change.org petition earlier this week, which thousands have since signed.
“I will not wear a hijab and support women’s oppression.”