A 14-year-old Mauritanian chess player has pulled out of the Junior World Cup to avoid facing an Israeli player.
“I decided to retire, because I refuse to play with a representative of a fictional country that in reality does not exist,” Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad said.
Al-Talib is ranked 47th out of 215 players in the world. The championships are due to take place in the United States next year.
The Mauritanian National League welcomed his decision.
“We salute our dear son Abdel Rahman Al-Talib Mohammed, this exceptional genius which honoured our country and our people by declaring a boycott of the grim Zionist face,” said Ghulam Al-Hajj, president of the league.
Israel and Mauritania used to have full diplomatic relations but they were suspended in 2009 in response to Israel’s war on Gaza.
Al Talib’s decision comes after two Olympic judokas pulled out of their competitions rather than face Israelis.
Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdalrasool pulled out of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo four days after Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine also withdrew after the draw set them on course for possible showdowns against an Israeli opponent.
Nourine cited his political support for the Palestinian cause as the reason behind his decision.
Since the Israel’s creation in 1948, state-sponsored sports initiatives have played an important role in its cultural diplomacy.