Candidates Tournament: Visa trouble

by André Schulz
3/4/2024 – Four weeks before the start of the Candidates Tournament in Toronto, almost all the participants and their travelling companions are still waiting for the visas they applied for months ago to be issued. FIDE has now sent an "urgent visa appeal to the Canadian government" and is even considering moving the "most prestigious tournament in the chess world" to another country. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


In less than four weeks, on 3 April, the Candidates Tournaments will begin in Toronto. For the first time, the Open and Women's tournaments will be played simultaneously. But even as the days tick down to the start of the tournament, many players and their travelling companions are still waiting for their visas to be approved. 

According to The Indian Express, the players concerned, including Indian candidates R Praggnanandhaa, Vidit Gujrathi and Gukesh D in the open tournament and Koneru Humpy and R Vaishali in the women's tournament, submitted the necessary data and information to the Canadian authorities months ago. So far, there has been no response from the Canadian authorities. Time is running out.

Meanwhile, the Indian Chess Federation and players have been trying to get Canadian MPs and ministers to speed up the visa process. So far, to no avail. 

FIDE publicised the matter in a press release on various social media channels and appealed to the Canadian authorities. The visas should be approved by the end of the week at the latest, otherwise the World Chess Federation will have to find an alternative venue as soon as possible. The dates of the tournaments will not be changed. However, the relocation of the Candidates' Tournaments would entail high costs and financial losses for FIDE, not only for organisational reasons. According to FIDE, 1000 tickets have already been sold for the Toronto tournaments. A move would also be expensive for the participating players and their travelling companions, as most of them will have already booked their flights and accommodation.

If the Candidates Tournaments in Canada are not held due to visa problems, Spain is being discussed as an alternative venue.

The Canadian daily Toronto Star quotes Vladimir Drkulec, president of the Chess Federation of Canada. He had announced that of the 40 people who had applied for visas, only two had actually received them, adding that this puts the tournament in peril: "If we don't have some significant progress in one week, it's cancelled. You can't have a candidates tournament without the candidates."

The delay in issuing the visas may have a political background. Ian Nepomniachtchi, Kateryna Lagno and Aleksandra Goryachkina are Russian citizens. Canada has been one of Ukraine's staunchest supporters after the Russian attack. Canada is also in a diplomatic row with India over the shooting death of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver. Canada suspects India of being behind the killing, which India denies.

FIDE's visa appeal


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.