Arkady Dvorkovich, president of the International Chess Federation, signed a contract on Friday with the All India Chess Federation (AICF) confirming that Chennai will host the 44th Chess Olympiad in August, 2022.

“I am delighted about Chennai hosting the Olympiad . I thank the Tamil Nadu government and the Chief Minister M. K. Stalin. I’m confident that it would be a great success,” said five time world champion Viswanathan Anand, who was present at the media event along with officials of the Tamil Nadu government.

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Anand said that he had known the FIDE president for some time, but had never visualised that he would meet him in Chennai or that his home city would host the Olympiad. The FIDE president and the team had a two-day inspection of the facilities in Chennai before signing the deal. “We didn’t have time for proper bidding process. It was informal discussion. There was nothing comparable to what India offered,” said the FIDE president, quite pleased with the speed at which the AICF, with support from the Tamil Nadu government, had finalised everything in a professional way.

Two weeks of excitement

The Olympiad was originally scheduled to be held in Minsk, Belarus, and had later shifted to Moscow, Russia.

“There will be excitement for a couple of weeks. I hope fans come from all over India, as they can see so many players,” said Anand, who was particularly pleased at the venue on the East Coast Road (ECR) in Chennai, as it was “picturesque and cool.”

India, as the host, will have the chance to field two teams, which the FIDE president observed as “doubling the chances of victory.”

AICF president Sanjay Kapoor said it was a historic moment for India, as it would be hosting the Olympiad, which began in 1927, for the first time. He also thanked the Tamil Nadu chief minister for approving the project in 48 hours. Secretary general of AICF Bharat Singh Chauhan observed that it would be the biggest sporting event in the country with more than 160 countries expected to compete.

“It takes four years to prepare for such an event. We are doing it in four months,” said Chauhan.