COVID 19: 2020 Chess Olympiad postponed

16-year-old Ben Patrick Cyubahiro is one of the emerging stars in chess in the country. Craish Bahizi

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) has postponed this year's Olympiad, a biennial chess tournament bringing together teams from all over the world, which was scheduled to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, from August 5 to 18.

A statement released on Tuesday by the FIDE Council regarding the Chess Olympiad indicated that the decision was reached as the body "is deeply concerned about the growing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on people's lives."

 

As noted, all other events earlier scheduled to be held in Moscow and Khanty-Mansiysk during the summer of 2020, "are rescheduled to the summer of 2021 at the same locations."

 

The Chess Olympiad is the most popular FIDE event, attended by thousands of people, including players, coaches, officials, and spectators.

 

"Taking into account the reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicating the constant increase in the number of cases worldwide, and given today's IOC statement regarding the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, FIDE has decided to postpone the 44th Chess Olympiad (including the competition for players with disabilities) and the FIDE Congress."

The postponement comes at a time when qualifiers to select the Rwandan national team had been temporarily put on hold as the local chess federation waited on key players' readiness, and were to resume in May.

However, there was also uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Rwanda had, by press time on Tuesday registered 40 confirmed cases.

More time for preparation

Kevin Ganza, the local chess federation president, said FIDE's announcement "does not affect the national team much as we had not finished the selection and the actual preparation with regard to traveling was yet to start."

 Ganza added: "I think it gives us room and more time for training and preparation. On the other hand though, the postponement will delay exposure opportunities for our players who were to be on the national team for the first time."

"Given the way our youngsters are improving their level of play, one can predict that the 2021 team will mainly be composed of U-25 players in Open, and U-20 in the Women section."

What Ganza was alluding to in his last remarks is the fact that younger Rwandan chess players have recently shown capability to oust seniors from the national team.

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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