In the wake of chess player Soumya Swaminathan stepping down from representing India at the Asian Team Chess Championship in Iran, she said that there is no need for religious or cultural enforcements in sports.
Soumya Swaminathan clarifies her stand
“There is no need for any religious or cultural enforcement in sports, we as sportspersons travel to another country representing our nation and to play our game. There are often dress codes, like in official chess tournaments, we are required to wear formals, which is valid, but there is no need to impose a dress code based on a religion or a culture upon anyone in sports,” Swaminathan told ANI.
Soumya Swaminathan was of the opinion that a player’s rights and welfare should be given importance and that sport will benefit greatly if it is properly looked after.
“I am very sorry for having to miss out and I hope I or anyone gets stuck in a situation like this, where we have to choose between our country and our values, our basic human rights. I hope the sporting fraternity and the chess fraternity as a whole will work towards it,” Soumya Swaminathan added.
What is Soumya Swaminathan controversy all about?
Woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan had pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4, calling the Islamic country’s “compulsory headscarf” rule violative of her personal rights.
“I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights, including my right to freedom of expression and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran,” the 29-year-old, who is India No. 5 and world No. 97 among women, posted on her Facebook account.
This is not the first time an athlete pulled out of an event over the same issue. In 2016, top Indian shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason.