Israeli official: Saudi Arabia denies chess visas

An Israeli chess official says Saudi Arabia has disregarded a request by seven Israeli players to participate in a world chess tournament in the kingdom this week.

Israel Geller said Sunday that the Saudis never responded to the Israelis' applications. "It's an old system. They simply didn't answer," he said.

Geller, a vice president of FIDE, chess' world governing body, said substantial efforts were made to persuade the Saudis to grant the visas. Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations, though Israeli officials frequently hint at warming behind-the-scenes ties.

Geller said Israel will ask FIDE to cancel plans to hold the same championship in Saudi Arabia in 2018 and 2019. If not, he says Israel will turn to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.