Tbilisi among "several" cities on stand-by to host FIDE Candidates Tournament – Insidethegames.biz

Chess

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) Candidates Tournament is set to resume in November with "several" cities being lined up as potential stand-by hosts.

The event that decides who will be the challenger to Magnus Carlsens reign as world champion kicked off on March 15 in Yekaterinburg, Russia only to be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eighth round of the competition has been scheduled for November 1 with Yekaterinburg understood to be contracted as the host city.

But a statement from FIDE revealed Tbilisi, Georgia had been "officially approved" as a reserve venue given the "epidemiological situation" and would be ready to stage the tournament in the "same time frame".

Emil Sutovsky, director general for FIDE, also confirmed they were considering other alternatives should COVID-19 restrictions tighten in Russia and Georgia.

"Today's announcement about the resumption of the Candidates is another positive step for chess fans and players," Sutovsky said.

"The World Championship cycle is one of the oldest sports traditions in the world, and it is FIDE's duty to protect it and ensure its continuity.

"This is also a crucial event in order to increase the popularity of chess around the world.

"We are aware that millions of fans are looking forward to seeing the best chess players on the planet back at the chess board, and we have spared no effort to make it possible despite the challenging circumstances.

"As we've stressed on several occasions, we would resume the competition only when it is considered safe to do so under the guidance of the leading public health authorities.

"Apart from Tbilisi, we are also in touch with other potential host cities from several countries where the event could be moved to, in case additional restrictions reappear in Russia and Georgia."

With only eight participants, FIDE claim the event was deemed safe to go ahead in March behind closed doors, with players, arbiters and officials tested for COVID-19 twice a day.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich added: "The health and safety measures were very similar to the ones currently being applied at the US Open tennis and other sporting events, but at the time, all this was uncharted territory."

The event came to an abrupt end when the worsening of the pandemic forced the Russian Government to close the country's borders.

Following the suspension of the competition, FIDE revealed that a private jet flew the chess players out of the country before the lockdown was enforced.

The tournament, played under a double round-robin format, was suspended after the seventh round, with the grandmasters Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, of France, and Ian Nepomniachtchi, of Russia, leading with 4.5 points.

Since half of the games had already been played, FIDE regulations state that the results stand.

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Tbilisi among "several" cities on stand-by to host FIDE Candidates Tournament - Insidethegames.biz

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