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Chess Olympiad begins in India after FIDE pulls out of Russia

New Delhi, July 28 (EFE).- The 44th Chess Olympiad kicked off in India on Thursday as delegates from around 190 countries flocked to the southern city of Chennai for a mega sporting event shifted from Moscow after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The competition features approximately 350 teams from around the world with over 1,700 participants.

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) introduced the Chess Olympiad Torch this year for the first time.

It has traveled through 75 Indian cities and was welcomed at the event’s opening ceremony attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I am glad to share that there has never been a better time for sports in India than the present,” said Modi at the inauguration of the Olympiad.

He also expressed hope for India performing well at the event.

“India had its best-ever performances in the Olympics, Paralympics and Deaflympics,” the prime minister said. “We achieved glory even in sports where we had not won earlier.”

Norway’s team features reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen, who has decided not to defend his crown against Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi.

The title will be contested by Nepomniachtchi and China’s Ding Liren in the spring of 2023 at a yet-to-be-determined venue.

Carlsen returns to Chennai, where nine years ago he had “one of the greatest experiences” of his chess career when he won his first World Chess Championship in 2013 against India’s Viswanathan Anand.

“Those are fantastic memories to revisit and I am looking forward to making new ones,” the Norwegian said.

Host India will field three teams in the Open category, including the grandmaster Srinath Narayanan, and two in the women’s section.

The United States is the favorite to win gold at the competition with players, including world no. 4 Fabiano Caruana and world no. 5 Levon Aronian.

India organized the Olympiad just four months after the International Chess Federation decided to withdraw the tournament from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

The 44th edition of the competition is marked by the absence of Russia, whose players were barred from the event. China has decided not to participate.

The event will conclude on Aug. 9. EFE


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