The 2022 edition of the Chess Olympiad officially got underway on Thursday, 28 July, with a grand opening ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and actor Rajnikanth were among the dignitaries present at the event.
India is hosting the Chess Olympiad for the first time, while this also happens to be the first edition since 1986 which will be played in an Asian country. Performances by musicians and percussionists were among the highlights of the opening ceremony.
Speaking about the event, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister M K Stalin stated “Today is a day of great pride for India. Chess Olympiad has never happened in India before. Hosting the Olympiad for the first time in India is a big honour for us. We are further delighted that Tamil Nadu has gotten this honour.” It was also announced that the Tamil Nadu state government has allocated INR 102 crore for the event.
The event was originally supposed to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk in Russia. However, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chennai was given the hosting rights. Speaking on the organizational challenge, the Minister of Sports, Anurag Thakur said “It was not easy to host the event in a span of three months, but India has done it. No other country would have organised such an event other than India.”
This will be the 44th edition of the competition, and having won one gold medal and a couple of bronze medals in the past, India will be aiming to add a fourth accolade to their tally. A total of 1,736 participants were initially expected to compete until Pakistan pulled out of the event.
Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand will be mentoring the Indian contingent during this event, while world champion Magnus Carlsen is all set to feature for Norway. India has announced three teams for the Olympiad, and all eyes will be on teen prodigies in the likes of R Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh D and Nihal Sarin.