Anna Muzychuk
Anna Muzychuk Source: Facebook/Anna Muzychuk

The world's reigning female world champion for rapid and blitz chess would rather lose or her two titles than attend a tournament in Saudi Arabia, she claimed in a Facebook post.

Ukrainian chess champion Anna Muzychuk, 27, won her two titles in Doha, Qatar last year. 

This year, the World Chess Federation’s governing body FIDE is hosting its tournament in Saudi Arabia however, and Muzychuk is refusing to attend.

Explaining her decision, the world champion said women are treated like "secondary creatures" in the kingdom, according to The Guardian.

However, the organizing body - FIDE - stated in November that they have reached an agreement with the organisers that the dress code for the event will be dark blue or black formal suits, with white shirts, either open-necked or with a tie, for men and dark blue or black formal trouser suits, with high-necked white blouses for women. 

"There will be no need to wear a hijab or abaya during the games, this will be a first for any sporting event in Saudi Arabia," the official statement read.

"In a few days I am going to lose two World Champion titles - one by one," Muzychuk said in a statement on Facebook. "Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia."

"[I decided] not to play by someone's rules, not to wear [an] abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature," she said.

"Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world but this time I feel really bad. I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined."

Muzychuk's sister Mariya, who is also a chess player, has made the same decision to forego the event altogether.

The event has a record prize pot

According to The Independent, Saudi Arabia paid around $1.5 million to host the international tournament - known as King Salman Rapid and Blitz 2017 - and promised a record $2 million prize pot.

Israeli players were also denied visas to attend the event as Saudi Arabia does not currently have any official diplomatic relations with Israel.

However, the tournament has still managed to draw many big names in the world of chess. Magnus Carlsen, who is ranked No. 1 in the world is reportedly attending.

Women's rights are improving in Saudi Arabia

In recent times, the kingdom has taken significant steps to improve women's rights.

Women were finally granted their right to drive in September, with the decision taking effect in June 2018. Riyadh has also moved to ease social regulations requiring women to have a male guardian granting her permission to make important life decisions.

Back in December 2015, Saudi women also voted for the first time and were allowed to stand for election in municipal elections, winning many seats throughout the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made enhancing women's rights and their role in the kingdom a central part of his ambitious Vision 2030 plan. Although it may be slower than some like, women's rights are steadily making progress.