New Delhi, June 13: Opposing Iran's compulsory hijab rule for all women athletes, Indian chess player Soumya Swaminathan has pulled herself out of an upcoming tournament in the country.
Swaminathan took to her Facebook handle to reveal her decision to excuse herself from the Asian Nations' Cup Chess Championship and also shared a strongly-worded statement on the social media.
In her statement she said, "I am very sorry to state that I have asked to be excused from the Indian Women's team for the forthcoming Asian Nations Cup (Asian Team) Chess Championship 2018, to be held at Iran from 26 July - 4 Aug 2018, as I do not wish to be forced to wear a Headscarf or Burkha. 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 not to go to Iran.
The 29-year-old chess player expressed her disappointment over organisers giving less importance to a player's rights. She even claimed there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in sports.
"I am very disappointed to see that player's rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships. I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports.
"It is a huge honour for me to represent India everytime I am selected in the National Team and I deeply regret that I will be unable to participate in such an important championship. While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it a top priority in our life, some things simply cannot be compromised," she signed off.
Earlier in 2016, champion India shooter Heena Sidhu too had refused to participate in the Asian Airgun Shooting Championship' held in Iran over the same reason.