(photo credit: Ron Friedman)
A Yemeni chess team backed out of a match with Israel at an international competition because of political reasons, officials said Wednesday.
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Aviv Bushinsky, chairman of the Israel Chess Federation, says the Yemen delegation didn't arrive for the first-round matchup with Israel Tuesday at the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. He said Israel was awarded an automatic 4-0 victory as a result of the forfeit.
In the Yemeni capital of San'a, the deputy youth and sports minister, Moamar al-Ariani, dismissed the automatic win awarded Israel as a "Jewish trick that aims to ruin the reputation of Yemen and Yemeni sport."
He also praised Yemen's chess team, saying it had lived up to its responsibility.
Yemeni officials say their government rejects any kind of normal relations with Israel, as a way to show their solidarity with the Palestinians.
For the same reason, Arab and Muslim countries often bar their athletes
from facing Israel in competitions and have prevented Israelis from
entering their countries for tournaments.
Bushinsky said he sent a letter to the world chess governing body
demanding the Yemen team be disqualified from the competition because it
decided to "play politics instead of chess."
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