An exciting new era for sports in Saudi Arabia Print
Tuesday, 26 December 2017 00:27
R1 idThe King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships were opened tonight at the iconic Apex Convention Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Both FIDE and the General Sports Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressed their confidence that an exciting new era starts in the country for all sports.

The opening ceremony was attended by Excellency Turki bin Abdel Muhsin Al-Asheikh, Chairman of the General Sports Authority, Mr Georgios Makropoulos, FIDE Deputy President, Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa al Nehyan, President of the Asian Chess Federation, Mr Jorge Vega, President of Confederation of Chess for Americas, Mr Al Sulaiman Mottaz Abdulrahman, President of the Saudi Arabia Chess Federation, and Mr Geoffrey Borg, FIDE CEO.

In his speech, FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos noted World No.1 player Magnus Carlsen is participating as well as players from 55 countries, among them 10 men out of the World Top-15 as well as 11 out the World Top-15 women. Mr Makropoulos also referred to the organisation of the Chess Olympiad in 1986 in Dubai, which eventually was followed by other major world sporting events, and the organisation of these World Championships in Riyadh can lead to an even larger explosion of sport activities.
Continuing, Mr Makropoulos went beyond his prepared text and addressed His Excellency Turki bin Abdel Muhsin Al-Asheikh: "Your Excellency, I am going to tell you something from my heart. FIDE motto is 'We are one family' and we firmly believe in this. We also believe that our sport, and especially such events, should help in developing peace and friendship among people. We would like to see the next event, here, as King Salman Peace & Friendship World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships. Where everybody will be welcomed. (The audience applauded). I am certain that Saudi Arabia can send a strong message for peace and friendship around the world and we are here with my colleagues to help. We are ready to meet with you or your people in the next days, to see how to proceed with the next steps. I want our chess players who are here, our arbiters, our officials, your people, your officials, to be proud in the future that they have been part of the beginning of a great effort, which I hope is going to have great success."

Full speech is posted below.

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Prior to the opening ceremony, the chief arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos, his deputies, tournament director and members of the Appeals Committee held the arbiters meeting and the technical meeting with the players.

In the drawing of lots for the first round the top rated player Magnus Carlsen chose white pieces in both events. Kateryna Lagno got black pieces for both women's events.

After the historical agreement with the Organisers there is no need for female players to wear a hijab or abaya during the games or in the hotel, which is a first for any sporting event in Saudi Arabia.

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No need to wear a hijab or abaya during the games or in the hotel

The world's top rated player Magnus Carlsen, the incumbent World Rapid and Blitz Champions - Sergey Karjakin (Russia) and Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), will compete in Riyadh along with over 200 top players, making the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships the strongest open events of the year.

The Championships will run between 26th and 30th December offering a record total prize fund of US$2,000,000. The games will start daily from 14:00 local time. Live broadcast will be available on the official website.

Speech of Mr Makropoulos

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Excellency Turki bin Abdel Muhsin Al-Asheikh, Chairman of the General Sports Authority, inspecting the venue with Mr Geoffrey Borg, FIDE CEO

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Magnus Carlsen chose the white pieces

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World No.1 Magnus Carlsen and FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos

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