Chess Olympiad: Pakistan withdraws over torch relay in J&K; India furious

Chess Olympiad: Pakistan withdraws over torch relay in J&K; India furious

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India on Thursday (July 28) criticised Pakistan for pulling out of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Tamil Nadu and said it is “highly unfortunate” that Islamabad has “politicised” the prestigious international event.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Chess Olympiad on Thursday.

Also read: Chess Olympiad in Chennai: Teams, schedule, format and venue details

Reacting to Pakistan’s decision, Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said it was surprising that Pakistan has suddenly taken the decision not to participate in the event.

“It is highly unfortunate that Pakistan has politicised a prestigious international event by making such statements and withdrawing its participation after its team has already reached India,” he said.

Bagchi was responding to questions on Pakistan’s decision to pull out from the Olympiad, citing the torch relay of the event passing through Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read: India can win 3 medals in Chess Olympiad, says Susan Polgar

On this, Bagchi asserted that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh “have been, are and will remain an integral part of India.”

The world chess governing body, FIDE initiated a Torch Run for the first time, starting with India.

Leh hosted the Torch Relay on June 20 and reached Srinagar on June 21. The Torch Relay was launched by PM Modi at the IG Stadium in New Delhi on June 19. The torch travelled to 75 cities for 40 days before it culminated at Mamallapuram.

According to reports from Pakistan, in a statement, Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said Pakistan was invited by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to participate in the Chess Olympiad and the Pakistani team was already training for the event.

Also read: How Tamil Nadu made right moves to become No. 1 chess state in India

India has chosen to “politicise” this prestigious international sporting event by passing the torch relay of this event through Kashmir in June, it added.

The Chess Olympiad will be held in Mamallapuram from today (July 28) to August 10. It has attracted a record 187 countries, with 188 teams in the Open section and 162 in the women’s sections.

India is represented by three teams in the open section and two in the women’s section.

Also read: Chances of podium finish very high in Olympiad: India A team coach

(With inputs from agencies)

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