Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen Reuters

Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, who won the World Chess Championship held in Riyadh this past week, on Saturday criticized Saudi Arabia which hosted the championship and refused to allow Israelis to participate.

Speaking to Norwegian broadcaster NRK and quoted by Hahadashot (formerly Channel 2 News), Carlsen said that Saudi Arabia should not be permitted to host the championship the next two years unless it allows players from all countries to take part.

"I very much hope that they will resolve the issue of visas to all countries," Carlsen said, adding, "There were a lot of positive energies here, but if it is not solved until next year, it will be impossible to hold the competition here."

Saudi Arabia announced just two days before the championship that it would not grant entry visas to seven Israeli players. Saudi Arabia did grant visas to players from Qatar and Iran, both countries which have strained ties with Saudi Arabia.

Carlsen is not alone in his criticism. The head of the English Chess Federation, Dominic Lawson, several days ago called for Saudi Arabia to be stripped of the world championships over its exclusion of the Israeli players.

The Israel Chess Federation similarly demanded on Monday that the World Chess Federation (FIDE) deny Saudi Arabia the right to host the world championship for the next two years.

The Israeli federation is also requesting that the seven Israeli players be financially compensated.