Update: Travel Ban May Affect Travel Chinese Delegation
Wang Hao (left) and Ding Liren. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Update: Travel Ban May Affect Travel Chinese Delegation

| 54 | Chess Event Coverage

According to the latest information available, Russia's ban on Chinese travelers might affect the travel plans of the Chinese delegation to Yekaterinburg. See updates below.

Update March 1: As communicated by the International Chess Federation, Ding Liren and the rest of the Chinese delegation has traveled to Moscow today, where it will stay for two weeks before heading to Yekaterinburg.

Update February 26: On February 25, Ding told that he was going to travel to Russia on February 27 and the Chinese delegation would stay in the countryside close to Moscow. Meanwhile, nothing has changed for Wang, who is still planning to travel from Japan shortly before the start of the tournament.

On February 26, FIDE Director General GM Emil Sutovsky said that the situation is unclear at the moment as the Chinese Chess Association has delayed its travel, and is currently not planning to fly on the 27th. "Visas have been issued and a sanatorium for quarantine has been prepared. We are fully ready."

The tournament's opening ceremony on March 16. Because of an obligatory quarantine period of 14 days for Chinese entering Yekaterinburg, it seems that the Chinese delegation will have to travel on March 1 or 2 at the latest. contacted the Chinese Chess Association via different channels but did not receive a reply yet.

Update February 19: Shortly after the publication of this article, FIDE published a statement which notes that the Chinese delegation "has been issued a humanitarian visa, which englobes travels with sport, cultural or scientific purposes. As such, they should find no impediments entering the Russian Federation, but they have been advised to travel well in advance."

Russia's ban on Chinese travelers, which will go into effect on February 20, won't impact GM Ding Liren and GM Wang Hao's travel to the Candidates Tournament. This was stated by FIDE Director General GM Emil Sutovsky on February 19.

On Tuesday, February 18 the Russian Federation announced that it will temporarily ban the entry of Chinese nationals to halt the potential spread of the coronavirus. The decree, signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, announced the suspension of "the passage of Chinese citizens across the state border of the Russian Federation, entering the territory of the Russian Federation for labor activities, as well as for private, educational and tourist purposes."

Sutovsky expects that the new measure won't affect Ding and Wang's travel to Yekaterinburg, to participate in the Candidates Tournament starting March 17. He is confident that they will obtain their visas.

"The Chinese Chess Association plans to send their delegation earlier. It was scheduled on March 1, but now they consider arriving even earlier," Sutovsky said. 

FIDE Director Emil Sutovsky
FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"The travel plan of our players is not clear up to now. The situation is very complicated," said Tian Hongwei of the Chinese Chess Association.

Sutovsky: "We assist in all possible means, including visas and arrangements for early arrivals. What we can't do is overrule Russian State and Health Ministry recommendations but as for the situation now, there is nothing that prevents the Chinese players to participate."

On Facebook, FIDE stated that the limitations imposed "restrict a different type of visitors—and after double-checking, we can confirm the decree is not going to impact Chinese players."

Only Ding plans to travel directly from China. Wang is still in Tokyo. On Monday, before Russia announced the new restrictions, he told

"Now I am going to apply for the visa in Tokyo. Although it’s slightly inconvenient, I believe that I can get a visa without problems. I will not change my schedule unless there are new restrictions from the Russian government, against travelers who come from Japan."

A week ago, the organizers of the Candidates Tournament told the Chinese Chess Association that an early arrival for Ding and Wang was recommended because Yekaterinburg has implemented a strict quarantine policy for people traveling from China.

Earlier, reported that the new virus in China has been affecting Ding and Wang's preparation for the Candidates Tournament as both stated they had to cancel plans for a training camp.

The virus disease, recently renamed COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation, has claimed more than 2,000 lives worldwide, all but six of them in China, and infected more than 75,000 people across 26 countries.

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