Is 2010 Olympiad headed for Disaster?
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.
I have received a correspondence from Nick Faulks from Bermuda who has detailed the logistical problems for his delegation. In his correspondence with the organizers he has pointed out the exorbitant costs incurred since the charter flights have been changed not once, but twice!
There is trouble brewing and apparently several more federations have the same problems. More details to follow.
So many problems, but the most pressing appears to be the charter flights, particularly out of Munich. Bermuda is now in the process of changing its flights for the second time, breaking the budgets of both the federation and the players, and I know there are others in the same position. It would be a good start if teams on the Munich flight could make themselves known, since we are more likely to have success in joint negotiations that if they they can pick us off individually.
FIDE of course have this information, but I expect them to guard it tightly.
What with visa fees, extra charges for captains’ rooms and charter flights for delegates, this was already the most expensive Olympiad ever for federations and players. We must hope it will justify this by also being the best!
I checked around to see if the Hotel will be read to open on September 1st, but have found no information of the sort. Here was the report on TWIC detailing Gelfer’s visit in July 2010.
Daaim, there are lots of Russian reports on a press conference held in Moscow two days ago by the governor of the Khanty Mansiysk region. e.g. https://sport.rian.ru/sport/20100826/269228775.html
She basically just said that everything, including the hotel, would be ready on time.
The Ilyumzhinov interview you mention was originally published on 31 July: https://www.sport-express.ru/newspaper/2010-07-31/7_1/
Andrei Kascha from the “RusBusinessNews” interviewed Alexander Gerber, Director of the Center of Assistance to the World Chess Olympics. This was posted on 13th of August.
Alexander Ernstovich, the first question that opens now all the talks about the Chess Olympiad: Will Khanty-Mansiysk be able to accommodate with comfort more than three thousand chess-players, judges, coaches, and reporters? Can you off hand dot all the i’s and say “yes” or “no”?
In pre-Olympic Khanty-Mansiysk everything is changing for the better with every passing day. For example, yesterday the operating team of the Olympyiskaya Hotel, which will receive about 1,400 chess-players, started commissioning of the rooms. The catering for chess-players has been arranged. At the moment, we are signing contracts for purchasing and delivery of food products. In the middle of the next week, the final meeting chaired by Yugra Governor Natalia Komarova will take place; the agenda includes the report about the readiness condition of Olympyiskaya. We are planning to sign the Commissioning Act of the hotel serviceability on August 25.
What does the hotel look like?
The Olympyiskaya Hotel is a 13-story building for 846 rooms. The first and the second levels accommodate a restaurant, fitness-club, service and office facilities. Olympyiskaya offers both single suites and standard rooms for 2-3 people.
Does it mean that chess celebrities like Veselin Topalov, Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik will be able to stay there with comfort?
We have not received any enquiries from their representatives concerning the quality of the required hotel rooms. However, we are ready to offer them comfortable accommodations that fit their stellar status.
Where are chess-players going to stay, if they fail to book a room in the Olympyiskaya Hotel?
Ten more city hotels are ready to accommodate participants of the Olympiad. On August 10, I had a meeting with their representatives. All the hotels are ready to offer their services to chess-players anytime.
What are the catering arrangements for chess-players who will come from different parts of the world?
The World Chess Federation (FIDE) did not make any requests. However, we, offering hospitality, require that the hotels should offer the cuisine traditional for those countries that are represented by chess-players – the future guests of these hotels. The hotel menu has been scheduled in every detail. The catering will be provided as buffet service.
Has the transportation schedule been prepared?
Certainly. Chess-players will use charter flights to come to Khanty-Mansiysk from Milan, Prague, Moscow and Dubai. The main airport of Yugra is completely prepared to receive airplanes. In Khanty-Mansiysk, chess-players will be offered comfortable shuttle-buses. The trip between any hotel and the Center of Tennis Sport Development where the Olympiad will be held will take 10-15 minutes.
By the way, why was the Center of Tennis Sport Development selected for the Olympics, but not the Yugra-Classic Concert and Theater Center that already hosted World Chess Cup championships?
The main problem is that Yugra-Classic lacks the required space. Only 200-250 chess-players took part in the World Cup, whereas the Olympics will attract ten times as many. The Center of Tennis Sport Development has enough space to accommodate them. All the chess-players will be able to start the game concurrently. By the way, at the previous Olympics in Dresden, the game hall was smaller, but it still was enough to accommodate everybody.
Will it be possible for the audience and reporters to watch the tournaments?
The hall stands have 3,500 seats. The second level of the building is equipped with screens for broadcasting the most interesting tournament games. There are also well-equipped rooms for sportscasters. As for reporters, about 30 journalists have been accredited to the Olympics so far. They will have their own office. We do not expect that many mass media representatives will come to Khanty-Mansiysk. Chess is the game that can easily be analyzed via the Internet.
The virtual network is likely to become the key assistant in coverage of the Olympiad?
Definitely. All the chess tables will be equipped with electronics. It will make it possible to broadcast the games in the Internet in the real-time mode.
Chess enthusiasts will equally be interested in the FIDE Congress that will also take place during the Olympic days. What can chess org-people expect in terms of work conditions?
The Congress will be held in the Chess Academy. This complex has no rivals in Russia. The total floor space of the Academy is 2,845 square meters. Its opening is scheduled for August 25, and at the end of September, there will be a grand ceremony, at which the new FIDE president will be elected and the capital of the Chess Olympics – 2014 will be named.
What are the plans for leisure time of chess-players? For example, will they have an opportunity to keep fit?
There will be three city swimming-pools at their disposal. In addition, each hotel has gyms and saunas. Therefore, those who love exercise will not be short of “iron”.
The guests of the regional capital will perceive the image of the city essentially during their communication with Olympiad volunteers. What is the Organization Committee doing in terms of the Olympic assistance team?
We need about 300 volunteers. At present we have about 200 people who are willing to help us. They know foreign languages and they attended special training courses. By the way, the equal attention is given to service personnel of the hotels. They also go through special training.
Khanty-Mansiysk is not a very large, but a comfortable city; visitors are always welcomed there. Yet, what additional safety precautions will be taken during the Chess Olympics days?
Prior to the Olympiad, the police take some preventive measures – trucks coming to the city are checked, the registration of private guns the Khanty-Mansiysk residents have is verified. During the tournament, the security and comfort of chess-players will be provided by about 800 people. Certainly, it is quite different from the security typical of international biathlon competitions. There, multi-thousand audiences of fans must be watched. The Olympics will generate less troubles. Chess-players and their fans are well-balanced people.
Everything looks fine, doesn’t it? So when I ask for minimal information about the “upgrade” for which they are demanding 1120 euros, why are they unable to reply?
Keep us posted. I hope others post here so that others can learn how to navigate these travel and lodging issues.
It would be nice to know how many teams from the Americas are even going. My impression is, apart from the big names, not too many, but only FIDE know and they’re not telling.
FIDE is claiming 160 nations are participating. I know personally that several teams in the Caribbean are going. I communicated with Allan Herbert of Barbados and they are taking the charter through Moscow. Jamaica and Trinidad will also be there. Suriname has a delegation as well as Venezuela. Other teams having submitted rosters are listed at Chessdom.
Here are the updated changes for all the charter flights. Hopefully federations were aware of the changes, but many delegations will no doubt have to pay dearly to change their itineraries. This could mean some federations will not be able to afford the fares. Bermuda, Canada, Poland and the Faroe Islands have already paid additional fees for this. Susan Polgar also told me she had to change her itinerary.
It is wonderfull taking a note on your blog. I hope you still remember me. I`m from Angola. We recieved Karpov´s delegation and it was very pleasant.
When will you be interested to come to Angola? It would be nice and a good story.
Let the Africans vote KARPOV the only choice.
Oi Mr. Pinto,
I would love to come to Angola. I remember asking you about capoeira there. It is a martial art believed to have been created from various African art forms.
Is there a report on the Karpov visit?
Here is a link to a report by an Angolan paper. It provides sketchy details of the Karpov trip.
Sketchy indeed. I heard from GM Maxim Dlugy via Skype and he stated the meetings went fine, but many delegations stayed home fearing the wrath of the Ilyumzhinov camp. It will be interesting to finally see how delegations actually vote. The vote count will need heavy security.
Are they going to ban cameras? Last election federation officials had to show photos in order to secure what was ‘promised’.
With Kirsan now having only FIDE as his only option in life we can expect him to play every dirty trick in the book. Hopefully, Karpov has designed his own manouvers to counter this.
I have no idea what will happen in Khanty Mansiyisk. All I know is that it will be very contentious. His decision to not stand for the office again is tactical. It gives the impression that he will spend more time with FIDE.
From Mig Greengard “Daily Dirt” today:
Players need not worry about Olympiad
After the heated exchanges, it is hopeful that the problems with the charter flights is being remedied. Israel Gelfer had some heated exchanges with Nick Faulks of Bermuda (see below). He then wrote the organizing committee (with whom he was more civil), but it remains to be seen whether these problems have been solved. Several stories have been posted on various sites. Here is a recap of the exchange on August 26th:
More trouble… the Dutch Chess Federation is running into all types of issues with the charter flights. Some teams may pull out of the Olympiad as a result.
Any news on how the arbitration of the Karpov vs Kirsan tussle is going?
See post #19 above. That is the latest. Here is the Soltis link:
Just heard from Kenneth Boikhutswane of Botswana who is stranded in the Dubai Airport now…
Communicated with Lekan Adeyemi of Nigeria and they are also in Dubai’s airport. However, he states that the mood is festive and there was “blood all over” in the airport battles between the countries there. 🙂
He is in good spirits and states that they merely want to arrive safely.
From the Kenyan Chess Group on Google yesterday, Maria Rehema sends message from Dubai…
The Airport Olympiad…
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is confident that Khanty-Mansiysk has become not only a star, but a bright star as the capital of the world chess.