News was in the air since last Friday, but the official confirmation came to the Chessdom email on Monday afternoon. The Chess teams for the World Mind Sports Games were supposed to have two sponsors for air travel – Air China and a Russian company. The Chinese have fulfilled their part and some federations have received their tickets. The other sponsor has delayed the payment of the money, so FIDE cannot guarantee at this point that the other federations, which pay their tickets, will actually be refunded.
Earlier this summer FIDE officials have explained to IMSA (International Mind Sports Association, the official governing body of the World Mind Sports Games in Beijing 2008) that the proximity of the event with the Chess Olympiad in Dresden creates financial difficulties for the federations. Both organizations agreed that sponsorship for the participants is necessary and actions were taken, but situation changed rapidly last week. The Russian sponsor has stated that they cannot provide the requested financing in the timeline that was initially agreed. The official explanation from the sponsor is “problems in the banking system” and “the global financial crisis”. They have promised to release the money in November, when situation gets better.
FIDE, however, has taken quick action and has informed all the participants about the current situation. Now it is up to the federations if they send the players and cover their costs. If the sponsor gives the money, they will be reimbursed, but that cannot be guaranteed.
The present situation
Even though the present situation is difficult, the Chess event will still take place. The host from China have arranged free accommodation to all participants. Air China has already provided 250 free tickets (about 1/3 of the participants) from specific locations.
The only question standing now is how many players will show up at the event. The initially published official list has changed only a few days ago. Veselin Topalov, the top seeded in the men event, had to withdraw due to force major reasons not connected to the current situation. The lists will be headed by Wang Yue and Yifan Hou, but it is unclear how many of the players will show up.