India to host 44th World Chess Olympiad

India had bid to host the tournament after the FIDE took the Chess Olympiad and all other official competitions away from Russia because of its military operations on Ukraine.

Chessboard

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: The World Chess Olympiad 2022 will be the second major world event to be held in the country after the World Championship match in 2013 between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen in Chennai.   -  Getty Images

Now, it is official. Chennai will host the 44th Chess Olympiad, the biggest congregation of players in the game, in July-August this year.

Since February 25, when India pitched in with a bid to hold the biennial spectacle following the decision of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to move the Olympiad from Russia after it launched a war against Ukraine, there was guarded optimism within the Indian chess circles. Now there is a sense of euphoria.

The Tamil Nadu Government, which offered a guarantee of Rs. 75 crore to the FIDE as part of the AICF’s bid has geared up to make the event a mega success.

Minutes after FIDE announced its decision, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin tweeted, “Delighted that the Chess Capital of India is set to host the 44th Chess Olympiad! A proud moment for Tamil Nadu! Chennai warmly welcomes all the Kings and Queens from around the world!”

In the words of an elated Viswanathan Anand, “As a World champion from my country, being a host to one of the top chess events in the chess calendar is a sense of personal pride.

“India has hosted many world-class events, and by hosting the Olympiad, we would have hosted all the important chess events in our country. This will add to our stature as one of the foremost countries in chess talent and chess organization.”

The FIDE Council also approved the venue - the Convention Hall of the Four Points by Sheraton on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, Chennai.

In the competition, as a host, India gets to field two teams in each section, plus a third team in case of odd-numbered entries.

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In 2018, when Georgia hosted the previous edition of the Olympiad in Batumi, 918 players from 180 nations took part in the Open section and another 747 from 146 countries in the women section.

“We are ready to host even 2000 players plus officials,” said a jubilant AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan. “We have already booked sufficient rooms for players, officials and volunteers. I know it is a huge logistical challenge, but we are committed to delivering a memorable Olympiad. On the organisational front, no effort will be spared to firmly establish India’s capabilities in the chess world.”

It is learnt that around 3000 rooms have been blocked, including around 1900 in the sea-facing five-star and four-star facilities dotting the East Coast Road, near the venue. To deal with the health concerns following the pandemic, the medical history of each player/official will be linked to the accreditation procedure. All hotels will have medics and ambulances available at all times.

The AICF plans to set up its Olympiad Secretariat close to the venue for close coordination with the Tamil Nadu Government. “Usually, nations get four years to hold the Olympiad, but we have less than four months. Given our resources and preparedness, I have no doubt India will be ready well before that. Soon, we shall work round-the-clock to benefit all from different time zones. In the days leading to the event, we will provide all telephonic assistance in Spanish, French, German and Arabic, besides English.

“I am also delighted to share that the Indian team has received a sponsorship of Rs. 1 crore. In the last Olympiad, the sponsorship amount was less than Rs. 25 lakh,” he revealed.

The uninterrupted live broadcast of all the games across various platforms poses a major challenge for any host of the Olympiad. The AICF hopes to meet this enormous challenge by having Chennai-based IT major Microsense Networks on board to ensure flawless connectivity.

Appearing to have done their homework well, the AICF and the TN Government seem to have prioritised the comfort of everyone from the leading players to the 700 volunteers.

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