Madrid, June 6th 2012
Open letter regarding 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul Turkey
Big Disappointment in Istanbul?
For the past few days I have received e-mails and phone calls from various members of the chess family, most of them being Presidents of national federations. All of them have expressed a deep concern and resentment in relation to the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul.
To be more precise, the level of costs for accommodation and conditions the organizers operate towards each federation are historically negative.
Also, as the President of a national federation, I was shocked when I saw the invitation and the regulations.
Only 3 rooms / team, combined with extremely high price for accommodation. If you compare their prices for a single room in a 5 stars hotel that you can achieve on the internet at the same hotel, it means that the food should cost more than 120€/day. And, from what I know about the prices level in Turkey, this food has to be legendary. I am very surprised that the organizers have not been able to make a better deal than this, especially when they have more than 30 000 nights and boards which gives them extraordinary negotiating and purchasing ability.
Until now, I did not feel the need to deal with the rules of FIDE concerning the organization of Chess Olympiad. This time I am obliged to do that. The conclusion is clear – the rules are good, but none of the important stipulations of the rules has been complied with.
It is stated in the rules that the contract between FIDE and the organizer on the organization of the Olympiad has to be signed three months after the organization of Olympiad is awarded. Mind you, the organizers of the Olympiad in Tromso signed the contract in October 2011, which is almost three years before the beginning of the Olympiad. Also, FIDE and the Turkish Chess Federation signed the contract on 29 April 2012, which is less than four months before the beginning of the Olympiad! Maybe not needless to say, the rules say that the organizer is obliged to deliver the invitation to FIDE office six months before the beginning of the Olympiad. In this case, the invitation was published a bit more than three months before the beginning. Last but not the least, the rules say that the future organizer is obliged to provide FIDE with the bank guarantee in the amount of 1 million Euros, in four annual installments. As a FIDE PB member, I am not familiar with the fact; however the FIDE Treasurer probably knows if the organizer complied with the rule. He also probably knows if certain measures had been taken if the rule was not complied with.
All of the above-mentioned would not be a problem if the federations were not faced with a huge problem after that – the drastic rise in prices and expenses. For the first time in history, a man, if he is the captain of a women’s team, will not be provided with a single room by the organizer. ’Find a solution on your own, make arrangements with some other team’ is the organizer’s message in the regulations. Could any reasonable person even imagine such a situation – the captains of the Russian and Ukrainian teams having preparations for the final match with their chess players – in a shared double room? If it were not sad and cynical, it would be funny.
Let’s take a look at the financial repercussions of all this – let’s assume that a national federation sends a man to the Olympiad as the women’s team captain. In addition, it is logical that at least the captain and the best player of a men’s team are provided with single rooms. Finally, any serious federation would like to send a coach with each of their teams. The expenses of such a ’pleasure’ amount to 12,600 €! At the last Olympiad, the price would amount to acceptable 5,000 €.
As a chess organizer, I am sure that around 1,000 persons will use the service of ’separation’ of double rooms or additional rooms that should be paid for. The difference between the highest price in the previous Olympiads and the prices in the Olympiad in Istanbul is more than 1 million Euros.
In addition, in the bid for the organization of the Olympiad, it was not stated that each participant will have to pay the ’organization fee’ in the amount of 100 €. Again very easily we can realize that more than 2,000 participants at the Olympiad and FIDE Congress will additionally pay around 250,000 €.
To be more precise, apart from the venue, basically nothing was stated in the bid. With that being said, the organizer was able to do whatever he wanted – to set the prices he wanted, to choose the hotels at the airport, railway stations or any other place. FIDE was the only one who could and had to prevent the organizer from doing all that. But now we should introduce a very well known phrase – the conflict of interest. Is it realistic to expect a person to prevent himself from creating hotel prices or to award the organization of an event to some other organizer because he has not complied with the rules? Could anyone imagine that a person files a lawsuit in the court against himself, and then writes an appeal and a response and appears as a witness on both sides?
At the end of this letter, I have to point out that I am not very much satisfied with the fact that I am the first to react to this problem. However, as the Continental President, I could not remain silent. I could not remain blind and deaf to the fact that almost 1, 5 million € will unnecessarily be gone from the budgets of national chess federations. I am not the one who should deal with the place where the money will end, but this question is open: Where does this money go and what for? I raise my voice with a clear message – the breach of rules at the expense of national chess federations and chess in general has to stop. Now. Enough is enough.