Candidates Chess Tournament In Russia Postponed Due To Coronavirus Pandemic (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The coronavirus pandemic had cancelled or postponed most of the sporting events in the planet. From football to cricket to even the Olympics, every event was postponed or suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed close to 22,000 people and impacted nearly 5 lakh people all over the world. Miraculously, the Candidates Chess event, the tournament that is played to determine who will face reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, was still taking place in Moscow, Russia despite the coronavirus pandemic. Seven rounds had taken place but on Thursday, the Candidates Chess tournament was postponed as Russia decided to suspend air traffic on March 27 onwards to contain the coronavirus.
In a statement released by President Arkady Dvorkovich in the official website of FIDE, the world chess body, he said, "The government of the Russian Federation announced that starting March 27, 2020, Russia interrupts air traffic with other countries without indicating any time frames. FIDE can not continue the tournament without guarantees for the players' and officials' safe and timely return home. In this situation and on the basis of clause 1.5. Rules of Candidates Tournament, the FIDE President decided to stop the tournament. It will be continued later, with the exact dates to be announced as soon, as the global situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic will allow. As it was stipulated by the special rules agreed with the players before the start of the event, the results of the 7 rounds played remain valid, and the tournament will be resumed in the same composition starting with the games of the 8th round."
Anish Giri is one of the top players who are currently playing the Candidates Chess tournament. (Image credit: Getty Images)
French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and local favorite Ian Nepomniachtchi were joint-leaders with 4.5 points each after seven rounds followed by Wang Hao, Anish Giri, Fabiano Caruana and Alexander Grischuk on 3.5 points. The winner of the candidates will play Carlsen for the world championship in the near future. With seven more rounds to go, it remains to be seen whether the tournament resumes in Moscow or somewhere else in the world.
Before the start of the tournament, Teimour Radjabov, who had won the Chess World Cup in 2019, withdrew from the tournament and Vachier-Lagrave was selected in the tournament due to a superior average rating. The reasons for Radjabov's withdrawal are not too clear but it was cited that he withdrew from the tournament due to personal reasons.
The postponement of the Candidates 2020 chess tournament now brings to an end of all sporting activity in the globe. Football from South America, Europe and Asia was already suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic while cricketing activity, both international and domestic as well as the Indian Premier League have been postponed, cancelled or suspended till April. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was postponed by one year to the summer of 2021 while Euro 2020, the marquee football tournament after Copa America and the FIFA World Cup, was also postponed to 2021.