Pak players boycott Chess Olympiad, leave to Pune

Pakistan was invited by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to participate in the Chess Olympiad being held in Mamallapuram near here from today.
Pakistan team waiting at Chennai airport on Thursday night
Pakistan team waiting at Chennai airport on Thursday night

NEW DELHI: The prevailing cross-border tension ended Pakistan chess team’s campaign even before it started as the players returned to Pune on Thursday night after a last-minute pull out from the 44th Olympiad here.

Pakistan withdrew from the prestigious event, citing the torch relay of the event passing through Jammu and Kashmir, which the neighbouring country views as a disputed area."Pakistani players will be leaving India tonight following their pullout of the event," Olympiad director and All India Chess Federation (AICF) general secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan told PTI.

All 19 of them suddenly left the Siruseri star hotel last night in luxury vehicles and arrived at the Chennai domestic airport. They returned to Pune on an Indigo Airlines passenger flight from Chennai at 11 pm. They were escorted by the authorities.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry announced its decision to boycott the Olympiad earlier in the day. "Pakistan condemns India’s mischievous attempt to mix politics with sports. As a protest, Pakistan has decided not to participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad and will also raise the matter with the International Chess Federation at the highest level," it said in a statement.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said it was "highly unfortunate" that Pakistan has "politicised" the prestigious international event.

The Olympiad was moved out of Russia and this is the first time, India is hosting the event.The event has attracted a record 188 teams in the Open section and 162 in the women"s, would also see six from India in the fray.

Netizens slammed Pakistan for pulling out of the event.

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