Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first-ever Chess Olympiad torch relay on Sunday ahead of the 44th edition of the event, to be held in Mahabalipuram from July 28 to August 10. very first time has instituted the torch relay, which is part of the Olympic tradition but was never done in the Chess Olympiad. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich handed the torch to the Prime Minister who gave it to the legendary Viswanathan Anand.
The torch will be taken to 75 cities over a 40-day period before arriving at Mahabalipuram near Chennai. State chess grandmasters will receive the torch at each location.
Leh, Srinagar, Jaipur, Surat, Mumbai, Bhopal, Patna, Kolkata, Gangtok, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thrissur, Port Blair and Kanyakumari are among the 75 cities.
In nearly 100 years of Chess Olympiad history, it is the first time India has hosted the prestigious event. With 188 countries registered for the upcoming Olympiad, the country will witness a huge congregation of countries for the first time for a sporting event on Indian soil.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Modi, who made a ceremonial move on the chessboard against the female grandmaster Kneru Humpy, said: “The very first torch relay of the Chess Olympiad starts from India, it is also the first time India has hosted the big event.
“We are proud that the sport has grown out of its birthplace and made its presence felt around the world. We are excited to see chess return to its birthplace and celebrate its success in the form of the Chess Olympiad .
“FIDE has decided that the torch relay will start from India. It is not only India’s honour, but also chess honor.” Modi said that chess is not just a game, but has now become an educational tool.
“In India, wrestling, kabaddi, malkhamb were played to keep fit and for analytical skills our ancestors invented chess. Chess traveled all over the world and became popular. Today chess has become an educational tool, chess players become problem solvers,” he said. .
Modi said yoga and meditation are essential to success at chess.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, who also attended the grand event, thanked the Prime Minister for supporting sports.
“It is a great opportunity for India that the country where chess originated will be hosted in this country. I thank the Prime Minister for his efforts and support.” “Every time there is a torch relay, it starts from India. In 1956, India entered the Chess Olympiad for the first time and it took years to win a medal, but after that he never looked back,” he said.
“Today there is a huge awareness about sports in the country, thanks to our Prime Minister. He is not only a sports enthusiast, sports enthusiast, he is also an avid sports enthusiast who cares about our athletes.” The chairman of the world chess organization Dvorkovich said he is grateful to the Indian government for hosting the prestigious event.
“I am excited to start the new tradition of torch relay in India. Olympic flame is a symbol of Olympic movement and friendship, the same will be the torch relay. In the future, we plan to expand the torch relay to all over the world, but it will always start from India.
“FIDE is grateful to the Government of India for taking this initiative that will make this game popular. Hope chess can become a part of the curriculum in all schools in India and the world,” he said.
“India is now the fastest growing chess country in the world. Organizing the Olympiad in India is a dream.” The ceremony started with the traditional dances of India depicting the 64 squares.
The program also showed the history of the ancient game, its origin and evolution.
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