Ilyumzhinov bids for Ground Zero

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Ilyumzhinov bids for Ground Zero mosque siteWhile one might think he would have other things on his mind, like a court case in Lausanne or an Olympiad that's plagued with problems, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov decided to come up with yet another surprising move. The FIDE President today announced a 10-million-dollar bid to buy the land in New York City known as Ground Zero, which, however, doesn't seem to be for sale at all.

News media all over the world have started reporting about the next controversial action by our beloved FIDE President. Most of the reports refer to this article by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which we give below in English.

FIDE wants to build a chess center on the location of the Twin Towers

MOSCOW, September 16 - RIA Novosti. World Chess Federation (FIDE) has offered a bid of US $10 million for the land in New York where the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001 to build a chess center, said the FIDE President at a press conference for RIA Novosti.

According to Ilyumzhinov, on behalf of the FIDE Presidential Board he has signed a letter on Wednesday to the mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and the owner of the land "with the offer to buy this land for 10 million dollars."

"The sum of US $10 million is due to the fact that last week the (American) billionaire Donald Trump proposed a (similar) offer of 7.5 million dollars, and we decided to beat him," - said the head of FIDE.

Ilyumzhinov said that on this site FIDE is going to "build an international chess center ("World Chess Center") and an international chess academy.

"We are currently awaiting a response to our letters," - added Ilyumzhinov.

The famous skyscrapers, one of the symbols of New York, were destroyed on September 11, 2001 as a result of a terrorist attack.

Last week the famous business magnate Donald Trump failed to buy out the controlling investor in the controversial Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan that has become commonly known as the Ground Zero Mosque, but is officially called Park51. It is a planned 13-story Islamic community center and mosque to be located about two blocks from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The project is highly controversial due to its proximity to Ground Zero.

Ilyumzhinov, however, seems to have made his US $10 million bid for the actual Ground Zero area, if we may believe in the accuracy of the RIA Novosti report. It may well be the case that he did bid for the Park51 building; otherwise it would be a major and quite comical misunderstanding.

In any case, the bid is the next, highly remarkable action by the FIDE President. According to the RIA Novosti report he is spending this ten million "on behalf of the FIDE Presidential Board", but this is hard to believe since FIDE doesn't have this kind of money. And for spending his own money, Ilyumzhinov wouldn't need the Presidential Board's approval.

To be continued, we assume - or not, like with most of Ilyumzhinov's great projects.

Update: now also has the story, confirming that it's not about the Ground Zero area itself:

The President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has offered to buy a controversial plot of land near the WTC site, and to erect a World Chess Center there.

The whole world is witnessing the disagreements over the fate of the land which is located within a short distance of the tragic events of September 11th.

In his letter to Michael Bloomberg, Ilyumzhinov writes:

“This issue has divided society in the United States and across the world, and it’s repercussions are global. I equally respect all faiths and religions and I believe that religious conflicts are extremely dangerous in complex times such as ours.”

In recent comments to the news media, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov commented:

“As President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), and as a person who has always supported inter religious understanding, I propose the construction of an International Chess Center at the site in question. Chess is a unique and intellectual game, it came to the West from the East, unites every country, and it has affinities with every religion equally. My dream as President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) is that chess becomes the only “battlefield” between East and West. Perhaps this is not yet possible, but we will do all we can to ease these tensions. At the International Chess Center, which would be erected in the immediate vicinity of Ground Zero, there would be a free chess school for children, national and international tournaments, and other educational and charitable activities. The Center would also hold annual memorial tournaments to benefit families of victims of the tragedy of September 11, 2001.”

As early as last week, the property developer Trump offered to buy the site two blocks from Ground Zero, but the offer was turned down – according to news sources.

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