Despite having the sport’s most marketable face as the world champion, chess’s world body FIDE on Thursday announced that they had received no bids to host the title bout between Norway’s incumbent Magnus Carlsen and challenger Viswanathan Anand.
“FIDE has not received any bid by the deadline… A further announcement will be made by FIDE in due course,” read a terse statement on the official website.
It is understood that the Indian chess federation, who hosted the final last year in Chennai, may have passed up on the opportunity this time around due to the political commitments of the current president, JCD Prabhakar, who is an MLA of Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK party. Last year, the Tamil Nadu government had sanctioned Rs 29 crores for the championship match.
The Norwegian federation, which had shown interest last year in hosting the event, cited the lack of funds to organise it this time around. However, with FIDE likely to extend the deadline, there may be enough time for Norway to organise a bid this year.
“Subject to what FIDE decides, this may give us an opportunity still to bring about a bid for the event,” said Joran Aulin-Jansson, president of Noraway’s chess federation, to Aftenposten.no. “We’ll see what the contents of the next message from FIDE is. We will not give up hope of a championship at home.”
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With the FIDE presidential elections coming around in August this year, the news that the world championship match has drawn no sponsor interest has been expectedly taken up.
Former world champion Garry Kasparov, running for the top post against the president since 1995, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, said the lack of takers for the championship match points to the absence of professionalism within FIDE which makes it difficult for new sponsors to engage with it.
“Many western sponsors do not want to deal with Kirsan’s FIDE & some of his usual backers are facing sanctions,” he tweeted. “Have firm schedule, invite potential sponsors into the process early etc. The way professionals do it in other sports,” he offered on Twitter.
The French chess federation had expressed an interest to hold last year’s match, submitting a proposal that nominated Paris as the venue, but FIDE had turned them down, saying the match was not subject to a bid as they had unilaterally offered India the rights to host. There maybe further interest from the federation this year, considering the April 30 deadline looks likely to be extended. Other venues that are being touted are Khanty-Mansiysk, Moscow and Elista, all three of which have held high profile chess events recently.