Nepomniachtchi Can't Play Carlsen Under Russian Flag

Nepomniachtchi Can't Play Carlsen Under Russian Flag

| 534 | Chess Politics

GM Ian Nepomniachtchchi cannot play under the Russian flag during his world championship match with GM Magnus Carlsen in November-December in Dubai. The reason is Russia's ban from international sporting competitions by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The WADA ban, imposed for a big doping cover-up scandal, was set for four years in December 2019 but subsequently halved in December 2020 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This means that until the end of 2022, Russian athletes cannot compete in Olympics and world championship events representing their country, and Russia cannot organize world-class events.

The ban seemed to have little effect on the chess world when it became clear that the FIDE Candidates Tournament, which finished a few days ago in Yekaterinburg, could go on as planned. The three Russian participants could play under their flag as well.

However, now that a Russian player has qualified for the world championship things will be different, because it's a world championship. There, the international ban is in effect, meaning that Nepomniachtchi will have to participate as a neutral player. There will be no Russian flag on the table and the Russian national anthem won't be played.

FIDE's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer David Llada provided the following statement:

FIDE can confirm that, due to the WADA sanctions against Russia, Ian Nepomniachtchi will not be allowed to play under the Russian flag at the World Championship match in Dubai.

This ban forbids Russian athletes and event organizers to display publicly the flag of the Russian Federation, the name “Russia”, (in any language or format), or any national emblem or national symbol of the Russian Federation, including on their clothes, equipment, or other personal items, at any event under the denomination "World Championship".

CAS directly clarified to FIDE that these restrictions do not apply to the qualification stage of any world championship, like the World Cup 2021 and the Women's World Cup 2021 that will take place in Russia later this year.

Likewise, the WADA ban does not apply to the Chess Olympiad 2022, since this event does not have the status of "World Championship." Formally, this status belongs to the World Team Championship.

The chess world was drawn towards the topic this week after an incident with a flag at the Women's World Draughts Championship. Urged by WADA, the organizers removed the flag of Russia's Tamara Tansykkuzhina while she was playing Poland's Natalia Sadowska in Warsaw. Tansykkuzhina, a six-time world champion, went on to lose what was the latest round of the final. The official later apologized for having removed the flag during the game.

The 2021 world chess championship match will be held November 24-December 16, 2021, alongside the World Expo in Dubai, UAE. The prize fund will be $2 million. More information on the match can be found here.

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