Furnishing $10 million guarantee in 5 minutes for hosting Chess Olympiad

Tamil Nadu CM Stalin has shown the way how sports administration can be galvanized

Hari Hara Mishra | March 17, 2022


#M.K. Stalin   #Tamil Nadu   #FIDE   #Chess   #Sports   #Chess Olympiad   #Russia   #Ukraine  
 Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Schachfiguren, Bauern -- 2022 -- 0022” / CC BY-SA 4.0
Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Schachfiguren, Bauern -- 2022 -- 0022” / CC BY-SA 4.0

While several sportsmen and women have made us proud with their achievements in various tournaments including in last Olympics, the image of sports organizers and politicians associated with the sports bodies has not been very encouraging generally. For many politicians, the sportsmen and events are just a photo opportunity or a PR exercise.

Against this background, news items detailing India’s successful bid to host the World Chess Olympiad this year in India, was refreshingly encouraging. The International Chess Federation (FIDE) on Tuesday approved the bid by the All India Chess Federation (AICF) to host 2022 Olympiad in Chennai.

Chennai has a long chess history, and for all purposes may be deemed the chess capital of India. Chennai had hosted the 2013 World Championship. It is hometown to Viswanathan Anand, the legendary World Champion,  and  first-ever Indian Grandmaster. In addition, Manual Aaron, the first Indian player to ever achieve the International Master title, also grew up in the city.  Last year, the Government of Tamil Nadu felicitated 14 players of the state who have won Gold in FIDE Online Olympiad 2020, FIDE World Teams 2019, Bronze in FIDE Online Olympiad 2021, along with the newly accredited Grandmaster, Woman Grandmaster, and International Master with a cash award amounting Rs. 1 crore 98 lakh.
 
Originally, the chess Olympiad was planned to be held in Russia. The venue change was necessitated  when Russia-Ukraine tensions escalated. And here comes AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, who also happens to be the chairman of FIDE Technical commission. He expressed his offer to organize the mega biennial event, which is expected to see 190 countries participating for various awards.

But for the bid to be accepted, a $10 million (Rs 76 crore) guarantee had to be given and venue, accommodation for 2,500 participants like players, coaches, team manager had  to be finalized, and fast. It looked quite challenging given our red tape and babu culture. However, as reported in press, Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin went extra mile to make it happen. Going by news reports, in flat five minutes $10 million (Rs 76 crore) financial guarantee was furnished. Half a dozen IAS officials were pressed into service to make logistics arrangement in booking all 4- and 5-star hotels in Mahabalipuram, one hour drive from Chennai. As a topping, from among 2,000 hotel rooms booked in 23 hotels, 1,200 were sea-facing. Racing against time, India was the only country to submit a proper bid, as per the FIDE Director General.

India is a great country and has the resources pool. But not quite often it acts so decisively, particularly in matters relating to games and sports, to outbid others in a global competitive arena.  

The Chess Olympiad is scheduled from July 26 to August 8 this year in Chennai and is a major physical global games/ sports event to be hosted by India. Hope this attracts new talents and help India aspiring to become a chess superpower. Three cheers for India, and sixty-four cheers for  the chess lovers (Chessboard has 64 squares).

Mishra is a columnist and policy analyst.
 

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