Monday, 5 July 2010

To Russia, without love

The decision to hold the 2010 Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk on the surface looked like a strange one, unless you understood the politics involved. The decision about the venue for 2010 was made at the 2006 Olympiad in Turin, and was intertwined with the vote for FIDE President. There were 5 bids submitted for 2010 at the time, with Budva, Buenos Aires, Riga and Posnan being the other bidders.
The voting system was the same used for the Olympics, in that if no city received a majority of votes, then the lowest scoring city dropped out and everyone voted again. Every member country had a vote, and 135 votes were cast. If my recollections are correct, Riga and Posnan were the first to drop out. On the third ballot Buenos Aires was eliminated, leaving Budva and Khanty-Mansiysk. Despite Budva looking like a much more appealing venue (to my eyes at least) a solid block of South American votes went to Khanty, putting it over the line.
However the choice of Siberia as the venue for 2010 has caused problems for some teams. The New Zealand team were hit by a couple of drop outs and at this stage are still looking for a 5th player for the Open team. There was also a bit of a kerfuffle in the English team, with Michael Adams originally not applying, with the venue being given as the reason for his reluctance to play. It now looks like he is back in the team, although the reasons why he has changed his mind has lead to a lively debate on the English Chess Forum.
Oddly enough the PNG team has had no problems (as yet), with 5 players and a captain committing to go very early on. In fact this is an improvement over the last 3 Olympiads, where we have barely scraped together a team of 4. I suspect the real challenge will be in 2 years time, when the players who chose not to represent the country this time round (due to a dislike of the venue), will find Istanbul a much more accommodating destination, and rediscover their national pride. For those that are privy to the internal politics of PNG chess, it once again promises to result in some 'interesting' discussions.

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