Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the 44th Chess Olympiad open at a grand function held at JLN Indoor Stadium, Chennai on Thursday. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, actor Rajinikanth and Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur were among those present at the ceremony.
The Prime Minister had launched the first-ever Chess Olympiad Torch Relay at the Indira Gandhi National Stadium in New Delhi on June 19. "There are many temples in Tamil Nadu with beautiful sculptures that represent different sports. Tamil Nadu has a strong historical connection with Chess. The state has produced many Chess masters.
It's home to a vibrant culture and the oldest language 'Tamil'", the Prime Minister said at the inauguration event. The torch travelled to 75 iconic locations in the country for over a period of 40 days, traversing close to 20,000 kilometres and culminating in Mahabalipuram before it heads to the FIDE Headquarters, Switzerland.
The 44th Chess Olympiad will be held from July 28 to August 10 with the registration of 187 countries, a world record in terms of the number of participating countries in a single edition of the Olympiad. India were handed hosting rights in April when FIDE decided to shift the event outside the original host country, Russia. And since then, AICF has been putting in Herculean efforts, working round the clock, in preparation for this grand event which is happening in India for the first time ever.
The Chess Olympiad Torch Relay reached Madurai in Tamil Nadu on Monday. The other cities that have been covered by torch relay include Agartala, Namsai, Dibrugarh, Itanagar, Leh, Jammu, Srinagar, Dharamshala, Shimla, Chandigarh, Patiala, Amritsar, Panipat, Gurugram, Kurukshetra, Dehradun, Haridwar, Meerut, Kanpur, Kevadia, Ahmedabad, Dandi, Surat, Jaipur, Daman, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Panaji, Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Jhansi, Gangtok, Siliguri, Kohima, Gangtok, Shillong, Guwahati and Siliguri, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Konark, Visakhapatnam, Amaravati, Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Thiruvananthapuram.