Chess Put Forward To Join Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Chess Put Forward To Join Paris 2024 Olympic Games

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Feb 13, 2019, 11:07 AM |
105 | Misc

A campaign was launched on Tuesday to have chess included as a sport at the Paris Olympic Games 2024. The official launch took place in Paris, in the presence of FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich.

Members of the World Chess Federation and the French Chess Federation met with the French press to promote the inclusion of chess at the 2024 Summer Olympics. Arkady Dvorkovich (FIDE), Bachar Kouatly (French Chess Federation) and IM Sophie Milliet (six-time French champion) were all present.

Kouatly, also the Deputy President of FIDE, announced on the website of the French Chess Federation that FIDE has decided to nominate chess "as a additional or demonstration sport" for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The official application was already sent on January 30th, and the next step is to create the conditions to be included by the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (OCOG) and by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Kouatly noted that for the Tokyo Games in 2020, five new sports will be included (surfing, karate, skateboard, baseball and climbing) to the 28 sports already present in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Paris 2024 can maintain all or part of these five sports, or propose others to the IOC, even in demonstration only.

On October 2, 2018, Jean-Philippe Gatien, Sports Director at Paris 2024, wrote to all the presidents of the international federations recognized by the IOC to inform them of the terms of an application and the timetable to be respected. He noted that two criteria must be fulfilled in order to be a candidate: that the sport has a tradition in France, and that the sport "speaks" to the youth of France.

"I sincerely believe that our discipline responds perfectly to these two conditions," Kouatly said. "This is a real opportunity to highlight our discipline and the success of our initiative will largely depend on the mobilization we will organize on the ground, with millions of practitioners."

In what will be a long and complicated process (which includes a lengthy questionnaire from the IOC's Programme Commission), chess will have to fulfil many more criteria, besides an appeal to millennials. Areas that will be looked at include the sport's history and tradition, gender equity, its overall fanbase as measured by e.g. TV audiences and social media, transparency and fairness, and for instance its advertising revenue potential.

Chess is one of the largest sports organisations, with currently 189 national federations affiliated to FIDE. Chess is growing in France, where two third of the members of the federation are aged under 18.

To make chess an Olympic sport is an uphill battle. Throughout his 23-year reign as FIDE president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov tried and failed to convince International Olympic Committee members to consider including chess, but remained optimistic. After failing to make a stand for the 2020 Summer Olympics, in 2015 he told Chinese media that chess should be included in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, describing curling as “chess on ice.”

So far, there has always been strong opposition inside the IOC and chess never stood a serious chance. The closest it got was in the year 2000, a year after the committee recognised chess as a sport. At the Sydney Olympics, Vishy Anand and Alexei Shirov played each other as part of an exhibition event. A request for including chess at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was rejected.

These days, there might be a different route for chess to become truly Olympic. Back in August 2017 Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, said that he will hold talks with eSports representatives and the IOC about the possibility of gaming joining the 2024 program.

It wouldn't be completely strange. At the Asian Games in 2018 eSports was a demonstration sport and in 2022 it will be a full sport. With the enormous growth of Twitch streams in the last two years, online chess has definitely become (some sort of) an eSport.

A final decision on chess and Paris 2024 won't happen before the end of the the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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