FIDE Grand Swiss Proceeds With Exemption As Latvia Locks Down
Riga, Latvia.

FIDE Grand Swiss Proceeds With Exemption As Latvia Locks Down

99 | Chess Event Coverage

The FIDE Grand Swiss and Women’s Grand Swiss will go on despite a new COVID-19 lockdown in Latvia that started on Thursday. The Latvian government included the chess tournament, scheduled for Oct. 27-Nov. 8, in a list of exceptions, while other sports events are being canceled.

Three days ago, Latvia was the first European country to announce a new COVID-19 lockdown from Oct. 21 until Nov. 15 to try to slow a spike in infections. The FIDE Grand Swiss's dates fall exactly in the period of the new lockdown which raised clear questions about whether the event would take place.

Today the Latvian government published a list of 30 sports events that were granted permission to be held. The list of authorized activities includes the Basketball Champions League, FIBA Euroleague Women, as well as the FIDE Grand Swiss and the Tal Memorial blitz to be held on November 9.

The 2021 FIDE Grand Swiss and Women’s Grand Swiss, which will determine two of the eight candidates for the 2022 world championship and one women's candidate, will be held with stricter health safety measures. The measures include accredited access only, on-site testing, access to sanitizers and masks, and social distancing. The event will be closed to the public and only players and accredited staff, as well as a limited number of accredited journalists, will be allowed to attend.

Further stricter measures may be introduced depending on the situation. All of the players and those who will have accreditations to attend must follow the health and safety protocols or face immediate removal from the tournament.

FIDE and the organizers emphasized in their press release that they "would like to assure players and participants that we are doing our best to host the event in Riga in a secure and still comfortable way."

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said: "We are very grateful for the fact that the tournament has been allowed to take place. FIDE and its organizing partners will always prioritize the health and safety of players, participants, and the staff involved in its events. We hope that the situation in Latvia will improve swiftly and we call on everyone – including the players and staff at the Grand Swiss – to strictly follow the rules and to do their best to contribute to preventing and containing the spread of the virus.”

The new lockdown in Latvia means that from Thursday, October 21 till November 15 nearly all stores, entertainment venues and schools will be shut, and services suspended. A stay-at-home order will be in effect between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Latvia has one of the highest rates of new COVID-19 cases relative to the population in the world, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The organization placed the country on the highest level of risk and advise not to travel to the country unless it's strictly necessary. Latvia is one of the least vaccinated European Union countries with only 57 percent of Latvian adults being fully vaccinated.

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