India offers to host 44. Chess Olympiad

by André Schulz
3/1/2022 – FIDE has issued a statement condemning Russia's attack on Ukraine, terminating all sponsorship contracts with Russian companies and excluding Russia and Belarus as venues for FIDE tournaments. This also affects the 2022 Chess Olympiad. The Indian Chess Federation is now offering to host the event at short notice.

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The FIDE, the World Chess Federation, was founded in 1924 in Paris where the Olympic Games took place. Six years after the end of World War I, the idea was to further international understanding. In 1927, London was host of the first international team tournament - the first Chess Olympiad. 43 Chess Olympiads followed. At the Chess Olympiad 2018 in Batumi, 180 federations and 185 teams took part in the open section, and in the women's section 151 teams from 146 federations played. The Chess Olympiads grew in size and developed into a festival of nations in which people from all countries and all continents gathered peacefully to play chess under the official motto of the FIDE: "Gens una sumus", "We are one family".

The 44th Chess Olympiad was originally to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk and the 45th Chess Olympiad was assigned to the capital of Belarus, Minsk. Then the Covid 19 pandemic and, in the summer of 2020, the uprising against the obviously manipulated results of the presidential election in Belarus changed the World Chess Federation's timetable. FIDE held an online Chess Olympiad in 2020 as a substitute and moved the venue of the 44th Chess Olympiad first to Khanty-Mansiysk, then to Moscow, where the tournament should have taken place from 26 July to 8 August.

Now Russia's attack on Ukraine has made Russia impossible as a venue for chess tournaments. Last Friday, FIDE already made it clear that the 44th Chess Olympiad will not take place in Moscow. Shortly after the decision of FIDE, the All Indian Chess Federation offered to host the tournament.

In India, the motherland of chess, Viswanathan Anand's successes have triggered an incredible chess boom. Chess has become a popular sport. The AICF is confident that it can organise this major tournament despite the fact that they have only five months to do so. The cost of the Olympiad is estimated at around USD 10 million. The Indian federation is hoping for government support. After the AICF publicised the idea of holding the Olympiad, two Indian cities have come forward and applied to host it. Speaking to ChessBase India, Bharat Singh Chauhan, secretary of the AICF, said, "This has always been my dream, that the biggest spectacle in the chess world, should come to India. Indian metro cities are well equipped to organize such an event. We would need roughly around 1500 to 2000 hotel rooms to host all the people coming from different countries. India is a chess loving country. There is a huge interest in the sport. We have competent individuals and I have complete trust on my team to pull this off!"

In addition to the 44th Chess Olympiad, venues must also be found for the Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities and for the FIDE Congress. FIDE would prefer to hold its Congress within the framework of the Chess Olympiad. The 2022 Congress is an elective congress at which the Presidium will be newly elected. At the 2018 Congress, Arkady Dvorkovich was elected as President of FIDE. His predecessor Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had to give up the post after being blacklisted by the US Treasury for his involvement in a Russian bank and dealings with Syria. Dvorkovich has a close connection to chess through his father, who was a well-known chess arbiter. Arkady Dvorkovich was also a personal advisor to Vladimir Putin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and organised the Football World Cup.

Under his leadership, the World Chess Federation is much better positioned and relies on the knowledge of many experts. Under normal circumstances, re-election would be likely. But the circumstances are anything but normal at the moment.

In the past, the Russian state, Russian state-owned companies and Russian oligarchs have provided substantial financial support to chess in Russia and to FIDE. In its statement on Sunday, FIDE cancelled all sponsorship contracts with Russian companies. FIDE's head of marketing Emil Sutovsky pointed out in a post on Facebook that FIDE does not rely on money from Russian companies. He said that FIDE had an income of 7 million euros from the awarding of media rights to Chess.com and Chess24 alone. Moreover, the FIDE Presidium is international and not dependent on Russia.

The first of the three Grand Prix tournaments recently took place in Berlin. On Wednesday, the second Grand Prix tournament starts in Belgrade and on 21 March, the third Grand Prix tournament will start again in Berlin. The Candidates Tournament in Madrid is scheduled to follow in June.

The Grand Prix tournaments are run by the marketing company Worldchess. Although the company is registered in England, it is a Russian company. But can Worldchess still run the Grand Prix properly under the external circumstances? E.g. how are Russian organisers and players supposed to get to Western countries when the airspace for Russian planes is closed over EU countries and hardly any airlines fly to Russia any more?

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ChessBase India: India bids for the Chess Olympiad 2022...


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

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