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Chess in Olympics 2024?

by Sagar Shah - 14/02/2019

On 13th of February FIDE made an important announcement - FIDE President Arkadij Dvorkovich along with French Chess Federation President Bachar Kouatly met with French press to promote the vision of chess as an olympic sport. Chess has become a candidate to join Paris Olympic Games 2024. Whether chess becomes a part of the Olympic games will only be confirmed subsequently by International Olympic Committee (IOC), but at least the first step has been taken. In this article we speak with some of the top Indian chess players Anand, Humpy, Vidit, Sethuraman, Eesha and AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, on what they feel about this initiative taken by the new administration of FIDE. 

Chess has its own Olympiad, chess has its own Asian championship, chess has its own Commonwealth championships. While from an organizational point of view this is pretty convenient because you have to cater to sports players of just one discipline, for the future of Indian players who wish to take chess as a profession this is not a good idea. What is the benefit of chess becoming an Olympic sport? Well, there are so many, but let's point a couple of them here. When some of the top players of our country have tried to make an application for the Government awards like the Arjuna Award, their entries do not carry the same weight as the sports players of other disciplines because chess is not an Olympic sport nor is it a part of the Asian games or the Commonwealth. A lot of corporate sponsors don't come forward to sponsor and support chess because at the end of the day, one of the big motivations for a sponsor is to see that the sport, or the sportsman brings home an Olympic medal. Also organizations like Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) (which has Vishy Anand as a director) does not invest in chess players because chess is not part of the Olympic Games. All of this would change if chess became an Olympic sport.

 

In this regard we are fortunate that the new adminstration of FIDE led by President Arkadij Dvorkovich is making attempts to get chess into the Olympics 2024 that will happen in Paris, France. Here's what the official handle of FIDE released on Facebook:

"Chess becomes a candidate to join Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The official launch of the campaign took place on the 12th of February in Paris. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich and French Chess Federation President Bachar Kouatly met with the French press to promote the vision of chess as a sport. Rapid and blitz are the formats of play considered for the Paris 2024 competitions. Chess is played by millions of people every day and is also growing in France, where 67% of the members of the French Chess Federation are aged under 18 years old. FIDE was created in Paris in 1924. Inclusion of chess in the Olympic program of Paris-2024 would be an outstanding symbolic gift for FIDE’s 100th anniversary."

Chess at the Paris Olympic Games 2024? | Photo: FIDE Facebook page

FIDE President Arkadij Dvorkovich speaks to French Media making an appeal to include chess in Olympics | Photo: FIDE Facebook page

Dvorkovich playing against 6-time French National Champion Sophie Millet | Photo: FIDE Facebook page

Chess is still a candidate to be a part of 2024 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has to decide whether it will accept chess as an Olympic sport, but an attempt has been made by the new FIDE administration led by Arkadij Dvorkovich. We got in touch with the top chess players of India and get their thoughts on this development:

Vishy Anand:

Five-time World Champion, and India no. 1 Vishy Anand | Photo: Alina l'Ami

"It has been a long term goal for FIDE to join the Olympic Games. I remember the first time that such a possibility was mentioned was back in 1998 when I played in Lausanne. At that point president Samaranch mentioned the possibility. Since then there was not a lot of movement. This news is very exciting, but I am awaiting further details."

Humpy Koneru:

Second woman player ever to break into 2600 and India no.1 Humpy Koneru | Photo: World Cup 2018

"It`s wonderful step by FIDE to include chess in Olympics. Earlier chess was an exhibition sport at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Chess is a game where many nations take part and its inclusion will have a great impact. In the recent times FIDE has taken many new decisions to promote chess and I wish they will be successful in this endeavour as well."

Vidit Gujrathi:

India no.3 and the youngest Indian player ever to break the 2700 Elo barrier | Photo: Alina l'Ami

"This was one of the first things I read in the morning. I was delighted to see this. Every sportsperson has a dream to play in the Olympics, and it was my dream too. Being in the Olympics would give our sport a different perspective and level of recognition. FIDE President and FIDE authorities should be lauded to have taken up this initiative. If chess is included in the Olympics it would be a big milestone and an achievement. I really hope it's considered seriously and accepted in the games. As a professional player, I would like to help achieve this in any way I can."

Adhiban

Adhiban also known as the beast. India no.4 | Photo: Niki Riga

It is indeed great news for chess to be added to the Olympics! It is about time this happened. Politically I think our sport is not well recognised by our government for exactly the same reason: "It is not a olympic sport". Also I think the classical format of our game was a major hurdle but thanks to the format beings rapid/blitz, FIDE should be able to include chess which would drastically change the scenario of our great sport in India! I also remember telling one of our immigration officer who was upset about the lack of gold medals for India in Olympics to which I replied, "If only they add Chess to Olympics...We will bring as many gold medals as you want!"

Sethuraman:

Former Asian Champion S.P. Sethuraman | Photo: David Llada

"I am extremely delighted to hear this news and it will be a great boon for the popularity of the game if chess is included in the Olympics.Thanks to FIDE for their immense efforts. This is one thing I had been hoping to see for ages and I also wish to see chess in the Asian games in the near future."

Surya Sekhar Ganguly:

Arjuna Awardee and World Cup 2019 participant GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly | Photo: Gopakumar Sudhakaran

"It is a fantastic news that chess will 'finally' become a candidate for Olympics. Thanks to FIDE's effort this  could eventually happen which in my opinion should have happened long back but better late than never. I sincerely thank all of them who took the effort to make it a strong contender for Olympic Games. A truly great news for all chess players and lovers all over the world."

Padmini Rout:

Reigning Asian Continental Women's Champion and the only Indian woman to have ever won an individual Gold medal in Chess Olympiad | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

"A great news and it will be amazing. Chess is being played in as many countries as you can name! A truly global sport like Chess to get included in the Olympics is what we want to see! "

Eesha Karavade:

One of the top players of Indian chess for years and also the member of the Indian Olympiad team | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"Well this is what all of us have been hoping for. For chess to be taken more seriously. I'm really very happy and excited to hear this news and I am really glad FIDE took this initiative!"

Bharat Singh Chauhan:

Secretary of All India Chess Federation Bharat Singh Chauhan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"Great news indeed. I am really very happy at this very fine development. This step will go a long way in establishing chess as a sport among the masses. Already we have huge number of affiliates and inclusion in Olympics will mean a huge boost. The new leadership in FIDE is living up to their promise. I am sure that this is only the beginning and many more great things will happen in the coming years. I take this opportunity to congratulate FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich on this great accomplishment."

We want to hear from you as well:

We heard it from them, we want to hear it from you as well!

What are your thoughts about this move by FIDE? Let us know in the comments section below. We will award the best answer with one month of ChessBase Premium Account.


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