Chennai: The world governing body of chess, FIDE, has postponed the Olympiad, scheduled for August 5-17 in Moscow, to 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The global chess body issued a statement saying that the Olympiad and the FIDE Congress, slated to be held in August in Moscow and Khanty-Mansiysk respectively, are rescheduled to the summer of 2021 at the same locations.
"As you know, the Chess Olympiad is the most popular FIDE event, attended by thousands of people, including players, coaches, officials, and spectators," the statement said.
"The mission of Chess Olympiads is not only to determine the sportive results but also to popularize our game and unite chess lovers around the world in this truly global sports festival."
"At the same time, FIDE is deeply concerned about the growing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on people's lives," FIDE said
FIDE added that the decision was made after reading several World Health Organistaion (WHO) reports indicating the increase in the number of cases. The pandemic has caused over 18,000 deaths so far while infecting more than 400,000 people worldwide.
"Taking into account the reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicating the constant increase in the number of cases worldwide, and given the IOC statement regarding the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, FIDE has decided to postpone the 44th Chess Olympiad (including the competition for players with disabilities) and the FIDE Congress," it said.
FIDE added that it will continue to work hard in order to support various chess activities, at the same time caring first and foremost about the health and well-being of the entire chess community.
Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy were scheduled to lead the Indian teams in the open and women's categories respectively in the Olympiad.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with sporting schedules across the globe leading to cancellations and postponements of events.