FIDE have announced that their online chess platform Arena, will now host matches between National teams. This is intended to allow teams prepare for the upcoming chess olympiad without requiring them to meet face to face.
On the surface this seems like a good idea, although having gone over the regulations I'm not sure how many countries will actually take up the offer. While the regulations that that the matches are intended to 'simulate the conditions and the tension of an Olympiad round' they also do not require that an arbiter be present, or that the players of one team even have to play at the same venue. The matches are even exempt from Anti-Cheating monitoring, although the Federation is responsible for the 'sporting spirit' of its members.
Of course nothing comes for free, and each player needs to be a paid up member of Arena. Well, if you aren't an IM/GM that is, as membership is free if you are. To me this is counter-intuitive, as the players and teams who would benefit from such matches are more likely to be non titled players from smaller federations, rather than titled players.
Over all this doesn't seem too different from simply arranging a match between two groups of players on any other chess server (playchess, chess cube etc) except for the bureaucratic overhead of registering it with FIDE and stumping up membership costs for each player. So I'll be interested in seeing how many countries take advantage of this offer.