The Chess Olympiad is less than one month away and there are continued grumblings about the logistical arrangements. One month ago there was a story about the venue in Khanty-Mansiysk still being under construction. There was also the revelation that the organizers may have chosen a venue unable to accommodate all the attendees. Israel Gelfer, Honorary Vice-President of FIDE visited the complex in July 2010 and found that the readiness was not up to standard. In fact, construction materials were still strewn about. This was after an initial visit in late 2009.
Chessdom carried an interview with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (although undated) that included the following exchange.
Chessdom: Kirsan Nikolayevich, there are less than two months to the start of the World Chess Olympiad 2010. There is information that in Khanty Mansiysk there are not enough places for all guests and some teams are even declined acceptance. A colleague of yours from FIDE, during the match for the World Title in Sofia, in a conversation with me even used the word “catastrophe”. Is the situation really so serious?
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: I am not inclined to put so much drama in the situation and talk about “catastrophe”. But indeed the situation is worrying. The organizers of the Olympiad had promised to build 3 hotels. They built only one. But even this one that is built, a month ago was not functioning. I travel a lot around the world, I have been in Asia, Africa, and South America. The chess players from some of these countries are complaining that as far back as May they have been declined requests for Khanty Mansiysk. They have been told by the organizing committee that there are not enough places in the charters, there is no space in the hotels… Can you imagine a situation where, let’s say, at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi the organizers inform the hokey players from Canada or Sweden, “We are sorry, we cannot host you because you do not have a place where to live.” (complete story)
Of course, there are stories now surfacing about difficulties in securing visas and arranging flights for the trip to Siberia. Several federations have already reported overstepping their budgetary limits and complaints are beginning to mount from various federations. There have been charter flights arranged, but some of the scheduled times have changed… more than once. One small federation has to disburse a total of US$5000 for charter flights! More fees are added with each adjustment in scheduling.
Some federations are already filing papers to be compensated for the fees incurred for ticket changes. There is also a serious question about the accommodations. While the blame is being put squarely on FIDE by some, this goes far beyond a partisan issue. This can be a human disaster with possible legal implications, if not remedied. The organizers appear overwhelmed to handle the torrent of issues that are facing them. Federations are complaining that this is already the most expensive Olympiad they have attempted to attend.
Ilyumzhinov has stated that this Olympiad will have the highest attendance and it is anticipated that 160 federations will trek to the Siberian region. With this being an election Olympiad, it is very important that delegations are able to make the trip. Both campaigns are no doubt making contingency plans to ensure that their constituencies are represented. However, the election is becoming secondary to the safe arrival of all the participants. Let us hope that the organizers will treat these cases with expediency.