Ivanchuk is granted permission to play in Baku, with conditions

by André Schulz
7/27/2023 – FIDE had given Vasyl Ivanchuk a wildcard to take part in the upcoming World Cup, but the Ukrainian grandmaster did not, initially, receive permission from the Ministry of Sport to take part. Six top grandmasters, including former world champions Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand, signed a petition. Now the Ukrainian Ministry of Sport has granted permission — with conditions. | Photo: FIDE

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Vasyl Ivanchuk had received a wild card from FIDE to take part in the World Cup, which starts next weekend in Baku, Azerbaijan. But the Ukrainian Ministry of Sport had — initially — refused him permission to leave the country.

Vasyl IvanchukOn July 21, a news story appeared on the FIDE website noting that Vasyl Ivanchuk, the strong Ukrainian grandmaster who lives in Lviv, had received a wild card from the World Chess Federation to take part in the World Cup in Baku (July 29 to August 25). However, the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine did not give the 54-year-old grandmaster permission to leave the country at first.

The background to this decision is the martial law that has been imposed on Ukraine since Russia’s attack on the country on 24 February 2022. As part of the general mobilisation associated with it, Ukrainians of conscript age, from 18 to 60, are not allowed to leave the country.

FIDE then published a petition to Ukraine’s Sports Minister, Vadym Gutzeit, signed by six major grandmasters — Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura Wesley So and Boris Gelfand — asking for Ivanchuk to be allowed to leave Ukraine for the World Cup.

On July 23, Gutzeit responded to FIDE’s request and explained that the Ukrainian Chess Federation had submitted a request for Ivanchuk to leave the country to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, but that the Ministry had to check whether Russian and Belarusian chess players were taking part in this tournament and whether the Ukrainian players were going to face them. The Ukrainian athletes are urged not to play against Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Finally, Ivanchuk has been given permission to leave the country and participate in the World Cup. In fact, the chance of Ivanchuk having to play one of the eleven Russian players, all of whom play under the FIDE flag, during the tournament is slim. Only in the fifth round could there be a clash. Ivanchuk indicated to the Ukrainian news site Gordon that he will then behave as the Ukrainian sports ministry dictates.

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