Indian chess star pulls out of Iran championship over compulsory headscarf rule

Soumya Swaminathan said the Iranian law was in direct violation of her rights and the only way to protest was to not show up to the tournament 

Ashok Sharma
Wednesday 13 June 2018 14:21
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Former world junior girls chess champion Soumya Swaminathan said she could not comply with the headscarf rule at an Iranian tournament
Former world junior girls chess champion Soumya Swaminathan said she could not comply with the headscarf rule at an Iranian tournament

A female Indian chess player is pulling out of an Asian championship being held in Iran next month after she said she could not comply with an Iranian rule requiring women participants to wear a headscarf.

Soumya Swaminathan, a former world junior girls champion, said she found the Iranian law to be in direct violation of her rights and the only way to protest that was to not go to Iran.

The Asian Nations Cup Chess Championship is scheduled to be held in Hamadan, Iran from 26 July to 4 August.

“I do not wish to be forced to wear a scarf or burka,” Swaminathan, 29, posted on her Facebook page and told media on Wednesday.

"There was no place for an enforceable religious dress code in sports," she said.

She also said that she was disappointed to see that players' rights and welfare were not taken into account when venues for major championships were determined by international federations.

“While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it top priority in our life, some things simply can't be compromised,”' she said.

In 2016, Indian shooter Heena Sidhu withdrew from a championship in Iran citing the same reason.

Associated press

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