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PM Narendra Modi flags off first-ever torch relay for 44th Chess Olympiad at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the first-ever torch relay for the Chess Olympiad at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi, ahead of the 44th edition of the event, which is to be held in Mahabalipuram from July 28 to August 10.

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The torch will be taken to 75 cities, including Srinagar, Jaipur, Surat, Mumbai, Bhopal, Patna, Kolkata and Gangtok in 40 days before the culmination at Mahabalipuram near Chennai. At every location, chess grandmasters of the state will receive the torch. The event was attended by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Shri. Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of State for Sports Shri. Nishith Pramanik, Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand, the Indian Chess contingent and members of Chess Federations from various countries.

Addressing the gathering at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, the PM said, “We are happy that the first torch relay will start from India. This is also the first time India will host a Chess Olympiad. It is a proud moment that the sport which was born here, and has left its mark all over the world is returning to India.”

He further said, “We are celebrating 75th year of Indian Independence. This torch will be taken to 75 cities and I am honoured and happy at FIDE’s decision to give us this opportunity. Importantly, this torch relay will always start from India henceforth. This is a great honour for our country and our history for which I thank the FIDE and its members. To the players who will be appearing in the 44th Chess Olympiad, I would like to say, play well and fair.”

In nearly 100 years of the history of the Chess Olympiad, it’s the first time that India will be hosting the prestigious event. With 188 countries registered for the upcoming Olympiad, the country is set to witness a huge congregation of nations for a sporting event for the first time on Indian soil. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich thanked the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for his role in creating a new tradition for the Chess Olympiad. “FIDE is delighted to start a new tradition from the land of Chess’ birth in keeping with Olympic spirit. The Chess Olympiad Torch will carry the message of excellence, respect and friendship,” he said.

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Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said, “It is a big opportunity for India that the land where chess originated, it will be hosted in this country. I thank the PM for his endeavour and support.” “Whenever torch relay happens it will start from India. In 1956, India participated for first time in Chess Olympiad and then took years to win a medal, but after that, never looked back.”

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