FIDE General Assembly determined that the 2028 Chess Olympiad will be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Some 42 years after UAE hosted arguably the best Olympiad in history in 1986, the country seeks to host the world’s most important chess event. This event includes all member federations, and concurrent sessions are held to conduct the business of FIDE, the world’s governing body. Two federations offered bids and gave credible presentations showing various aspects of their planning.
The UAE had an impressive 18-minute presentation (starting 3:04:00) touting its financial attraction and world-class tourist accommodations. The General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, HE Aref Hamad Al-Awani, gave his blessings, promising a memorable event and full commitment to visiting federations and guests. They emphasized accessibility of the disabled, which was promoted by hosting the Special Olympics in 2019 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
The UAE showed a video (starting at 3:08:57) that gave an impressive visualization of their offerings. It included imagery from previous UAE events (i.e., tennis, golf, motorsports, football, cycling, athletics), an aerial tour of the famous landmarks, and a guided tour of the facilities. Interspersed in the video were various images of chess players competing in events in the UAE. A great emphasis was placed on the visa process, which has been so difficult for many countries to navigate, especially when the Olympiad was held in European countries. The bid was presented at 15.3 million euros.
Abu Dhabi Olympiad Bid (Annex 5.5.1)
Genova then assumed the floor and began laying out a vision for the 2028 Chess Olympiad with an 18 million euro bid. At the top of the pitch was an appeal to developing federations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by pledging one million euros for chess development and training in these regions. The idea is to prepare them for the event and provide additional support for their inclusion.
There was an impressive display of Genova infrastructure where all the festivities will be held. The venue is along the waterfront, where a major project is underway to provide a state-of-the-art facility where all the games will be played under one roof. One of the novel ideas is the international exhibition area to provide booth space for every federation to promote their activities, market their country for tourism, and network with other delegations.
The hotels would be no further than ten minutes from the venue. In past Olympiads, there were situations where smaller federations were as much as an hour away from the venue. Even in Chennai, the lodging was far away, but they handled the logistics well. However, one unfortunate example was Dresden, Germany, where there were a number of “zero tolerance” forfeitures due to transportation issues (i.e., public trams). Players had to ride with German pedestrians to get to the venue.
There was an emphasis on the surrounding historic scenery of Genova, which was impressive. Inclusivity was also mentioned as a symbol of Genova 2028, with the city having hosted events for the disabled in recent years. The team ended with the bid’s strengths, including government backing, venue conditions, logistical support, and the historic budget.
Genova Olympiad Bid (Annex 5.1.2)
After the two presentations, FIDE presented reports of the inspections, which took place within weeks of each other (Genova on November 22nd-23rd-Annex 5.1.3a ; Abu Dhabi on December 6th and 7th-Annex 5.1.3b). After the bidding presentations and the inspection report, the vote was tallied. The results were:
2028 Chess Olympiad Bid (Voting Results)
Abu Dhabi, UAE (96 votes, 61.54%)
Genoa, Italy (60 votes, 38.46%)
16 no votes
The 2024 Olympiad is in Budapest, Hungary while the 2026 edition will be in Uzbekistan, the defending gold medalists. There is a push to have the biennial tournament in more diverse nations. Even though powerful chess nations like the U.S. have not hosted an Olympiad, nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America will be vying for the honor. The UAE has a chance to top their effort in 1986 and keep the standard set by Chennai Olympiad.
FIDE discusses the removal of Term Limits
Perhaps the most controversial item on the Congress agenda was the proposal by the Andorra Chess Federation to “cancel the limit of the maximum two presidential terms for one person by deleting article 18.12 of the FIDE Charter.” FIDE President gets two terms of four years. This was ironic because Arkady Dvorkovich campaigned on term limits after the 23-year tenure of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Social media immediately reacted. The following item was up for discussion:
To delete Article 18.12 of the FIDE Charter. To reject other proposals regarding term-limits.~Andorra Chess Federation
Levon Aronian posted the following comment on X…
This is embarrassing and if passed will destroy FIDE in the eyes of professional chess players— Levon Aronian (@LevAronian) December 17, 2023
U.S. Delegate and past federation President Allen Priest argued that while there was a disruption of business due to COVID-19, this proposal was premature because the institution of term limits was only implemented in 2020. The logic goes that the reform has not had a chance to work. Priest argued that lengthy incumbencies have not served FIDE well. Sonja Johnson of Trinidad & Tobago supported keeping the term limits to allow for the process to work and to keep in line with many international bodies (IOC) with term limits.
Several, including FIDE veteran Casto Abundo, argued that removing the term limits will still allow federations to vote their conscience and not necessarily extend the tenure of the incumbent. Turkmenistan, India, Georgia, Zambia, Nigeria, Namibia, and Barbados supported removing the term limits. Georgios Makropoulos, who ran against Dvorkovich in 2018, praised him as an outstanding manager of business and argued that one should allow successful managers to continue.
The legislation passed with the necessary 2/3 majority (108-27) with 31 non-votes and 8 abstentions. and got an immediate response on social media.