Goran Urosevic: Mr Ilyumzhinov, thank you for taking time for this quick interview. Let’s start with the hottest topic of Chess Olympiad in Tromso. The organizers aretrying to exclude nine teams from the event. What is your comment?
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: I think this is not good for FIDE and me as President, because our motto is Gens Una Sumus and our task is to gather the greatest possible number of federations in the Chess Olympiad.
Because what is the Chess Olympiad? Chess Olympiad is for all chess players from all national federations. This is not only a competition, this is a big celebration of chess.
When I visit countries around the world, they start playing more chess. For them to play in a Olympiad is a very nice experience, to see the famous Grandmasters, to see the World Chess Champion. When they come back to their country they start to popularize chess.
The Olympiad is very different from a World Chess Championship, it is a celebration for many countries. For me it is a pity that the Organizing Committee does not allow teams and players -not only the Russian, also Pakistan, Afganistan… Cambodia that is playing for the first time! Two months ago I visited this country, I met with the President of the Cambodian Chess Federation, the Minister of Sports, the Minister of Education, and they were very excited.
In such countries it happens that sometimes they forget the deadline. For example, in the Central African Republic there is no Internet. They use only fax. And they use this fax only two hours a day. Sometimes there is no electricity… but they like chess, they organize tournaments, there are many volunteers who work in these federations just to help the game.
My goal is to involve as many countries as possible in chess, and in Tromso there are supposed to be a record 181 countries! But now the Organizing Committee does not allow some to participate.
So what is the problem? Some have forgotten. Send a letter, ask them to organize themselves, send a letter to FIDE… for me it is like a shock because this is not good for the popularization of chess.
According to law maybe they are right, there was a deadline of 1st June, paperwork was not in order. But as chess people, as part of the chess world, they are not right.
The teams have already booked their tickets. Can you imagine the travel from Cambodia? It is not a direct flight. Cambodia to Singapore, Singapore to Dubai, Dubai to Oslo, Oslo to Tromso.
Goran Urosevic: What can FIDE do in this situation?
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: I have already received letters from these nine national federations, asking me to use article 6 from the regulations. I also sent my letter to the Organizing Committee to ask why they make such a decision. Tomorrow I will have the opinions of the members of the FIDE Presidential Board and after that I will make my decision.
Goran Urosevic: There are speculations that the Olympiad can be canceled or moved to another place and to another time?
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: No, it will stay in Tromso. The General Assembly adopted Tromso and there is no further discussion.
Goran Urosevic: You are here in Novi Sad for the meeting of Zone 1.5. What were the topics of your talks and what were your impressions from this visit?
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: I am very glad that I received the invitation to the Zone 1.5 meeting. For me as President it is very important to be at such meetings because these are talks for the future of chess, for the current problems, chess education. During these meetings I try to help and direct the problems to the commissions.
Serbia and the ex Yugoslavia countries have very deep chess tradition. Everybody knows the game, everybody plays chess, in every family there is a good chess player. There is chess feeling in the air here.
Therefore, we decided to work together for this Zone because of the great chess tradition. It is good to continue popularizing chess in these countries. And from here we can further send missioners to popularize chess in other continents as well.
Goran Urosevic: You are now nearing the end of your campaign for another term in office. How is your campaign going?
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: Every year I visit 50-60 countries, the same was this year going to all continents. The campaign is a normal campaign. I want to use the opportunity to thank the other candidate Garry Kasparov, just like I did four years ago to Anatoly Karpov, they are candidates that do good to the popularity of chess and to the image of FIDE.