Ukrainian world rapid and blitz chess champion Anna Muzychuk has decided to forego her chance to defend her titles and possibly win the substantial payouts that come along with a victory – in order to protest the move to hold the event in Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for its weak women’s record. She says she has no interest in wearing the abaya (the long, loose-fitting dark robe Saudi women are made to wear); in being accompanied when outdoors; or to “altogether not to feel as like a secondary creature”.
The country was awarded the event, in part, due to the substantial prize packages it is offering. The $2 million in total prize money is nearly 350% more than when she won last year in Doha, Qatar. “In five days,” she explains, “I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen events combined.”
Her sister Mariya – herself a former world champion – boycotted this year’s World Chess Championship in Tehran, Iran, as she did not want to wear the hijab while playing. She will be joining her sister in boycotting this event. “The most upsetting thing is that almost nobody really cares,” says Anna. “For those few who do, we’ll be back!”
We care Anna, that’s why we are writing about the stand you’ve taken.
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