Dutch checkers team held captive in Ivory Coast hotel in bill dispute

Checkers World Championships in the Ivory Coast, 1 Oct 2019
Checkers World Championships in the Ivory Coast, 1 Oct 2019Photo: Team NL KNDB/Facebook

The Dutch checkers team was held captive in a hotel on the Ivory Coast, where they were participating in the checkers World Championship, for hours on Thursday. The bill for the hotel was not paid and as a result, the hotel would not let any of its guests leave, Dutch checkers association KNDB said on Facebook.

The conflict over the bill was between the hotel and the Ivorian Ministry of Sport, according to RTL Nieuws. The Ministry did not pay the bill for the hotel, where the participating teams stayed and matches were played. Harry Otten of the global checkers federation FMJD told RTL that the hotel "called in armed police and closed the gates". He called it "hostage taking" and "a more than outrageous situation".

The Dutch ambassador in the Ivory Coast contacted the local Ministry of Sport and was told that the Ministry was unaware that the bill had not been paid, a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said to the broadcaster. The Ministry of Sport then contacted the hotel to figure out what was going on.

The hotel let its guests go some 4.5 hours later. "The situation has apparently been resolved by the officials on the scene", the KNDB said on Facebook. "A few people have since left the hotel to catch their flight."

That included the Dutch arbitrator. The rest of the team - three players and the coach - will head home on Friday. 

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