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Iran Female Chess Referee Defies Compulsory Hijab, Says Not Going Back


International chess arbiter Shohreh Bayat defied the compulsory headscarf during a game at Shanghai World Championship.

A female international chess arbiter and the former Secretary-General of the Iranian Chess Federation has said she is not returning to Iran after photos showing her not wearing the compulsory headscarf during Shanghai Women's World Championship 2020 games were published.

Shohreh Bayat is yet another Iranian athletes participating in international games who is not returning to Iran in recent weeks. Kimia Alizadeh who won a taekwondo bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 also indicated this week that she wants to settle in The Netherlands.

On January 2, the Iranian Chess Federation expelled another veteran Iranian female chess grandmaster, Mitra Hejazipour, for boldly removing her scarf during the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow and on December 29 Alireza Firouzja, a top-rated chess player and the world's number two ranked junior player competed under the global chess body FIDE ’s flag instead of the Iranian flag.

Shohreh Bayat, 32, who is Asia’s first and only female Grade-A arbiter and an international arbiter since 2014 has been appointed as the Chief Arbiter of the Women's World Chess Championship match between the reigning champion Ju Wenjun (China) and the challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) which will start on Sunday in Shanghai.

When the first photo showing her not wearing the compulsory headscarf was published the Iranian media quoted her father as saying that Bayat had said her headscarf had dropped accidentally.

Bayat later appeared not wearing the headscarf in other games. Nigel Short, the Vice-President of FIDE, posted one of the photos on his Tweeter account on January 9 and said she is "a great ambassador for her country". Bayat retweeted the tweet.

"Me, her mother and even the head of the Iranian Chess Federation tried hard to convince her to come back to Iran but she says she will not because she is worried about going on with her activities in Iran and wants to continue in another country with the help of the International Chess Federation," Bayat's father was quoted by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) as saying on January 10.

Bayat is also the first woman ever to be general secretary of a sports federation in Iran.

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