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Chess Olympiad winning team India asked to pay custom duty on gold medals

According to the central government notification, medals and trophies won by Indian sports team members for participating in international tournaments are exempt from customs duties.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: December 4, 2020 11:27:25 am
Chess IndiaViswanathan Anand, Koneru Humpy and R Praggnanandhaa were part of the Indian team in the final. (Twitter/FIDE)

The chess team representing won their first-ever gold medal in the FIDE (International Chess Federation) Online Chess Olympiad in August 2020, one of the most prestigious team events in chess, which was held online because of the Covid-19 pandemic. India and Russia were announced as joint winners.

The Indian team’s gold medal-winning feat was hailed by everyone, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their landmark victory.

But on Wednesday, team’s vice captain Srinath Narayanan, who lives in Bengaluru, took to Twitter after over three months of winning the tournament, saying, “The medals are here! Thank you FIDE chess. On the way to dispatch them to the rest of the team now. It wasn’t easy getting it! It reached from Russia to India in three days, but took more than a week to reach from Bangalore to India, and had to pay customs duty!”

According to a June 30, 2017 notification of central government, medals and trophies won by Indian sports team members for participating in International tournaments are exempt from customs duties.

In an interview to Mint, Narayan said that he was made to pay a custom duty of Rs. 6300 to the courier service DHL Express India Pvt Ltd. “I was so tired of all this, I just paid it,” he said. “They (customs officials) had opened up the package and asked me what was inside, and what it was made of. I had to give them an official document on the chemical composition,” Narayanan told Mint.

The medals were lying at the Bengaluru airport for a week before it was couriered to Chennai. The vice-captain will now send the medals to the other members of the team.

A server outage resulted in India and Russia sharing the trophy in the FIDE online Chess Olympiad. Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh were initially deemed to have lost their matches on the basis of time running out, after the internet connection faltered. Both Indians were holding good positions in their contests. However, a little while later, the International Chess Federation decreed that the two teams be declared joint winners.

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