Chess is Not Boxing. Baku Hoped Aronian Would Come
Azerbaijan had hoped that Armenian GM Levon Aronian would agree to participate in the 2012 Candidates Tournament in Baku, said Chess Federation of Azerbaijan vice-chair Mair Mamedov.
“We really hoped that Aronian would agree to participate in the tournament held in Baku. His visit is not a visit of boxers,” he said.
Note, the Candidates Tournament is the final contest to determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship. The winner of the Candidates earns the right to a match for the World Championship against the incumbent World Champion.
However, earlier in February, Aronian had sent a letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the board stating his refusal to participate in the Candidates Tournament if it was held in Baku.
“I’d like to inform you that general atmosphere in Azerbaijan and continuous tensions between our countries make my participation in such [a] high-ranked tournament in Azerbaijan impossible. A responsible and important event, such as the Candidates Tournament, requires peace of mind and special concentration. No circumstances, if they are not chess-related, should prevent the grandmaster from demonstrating all of his skills. Unfortunately, at this moment no Armenian can find favorable or adequate psychological atmosphere in Azerbaijan, whereas that is something absolutely necessary. In my opinion, all the participants should be in equal conditions, which is impossible in case of holding the tournament in Azerbaijan. Security guaranties and any kind of additional support cannot be a remedy.
“Taking into account the above-mentioned considerations, I inform you that I would be delighted to take part in Candidates Tournament [in] any other country, but my participation in the candidates tournament in Azerbaijan has to be excluded,” he wrote.
FIDE has since announced it will hold the tournament, which is set to take place Oct. 23 to Nov. 13, in London. However, Mamedov pointed out that there were only two bids on Jan. 31 to stage the next Candidates Tournament, from Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, while Bulgarian International Master chessplayer Silvio Danailov has threatened to take the matter up in court.
“I will not allow such a mockery. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have made their bid on time, while London has not as such. As a member of the FIDE Presidential board, I was not informed about any contracts. Ilyumzhinov can talk what he wants. When I see on paper the contract with Agon, with lawyers we will go to the CAS Sports Court in Lausanne. The Bulgarian Chess Federation worked long on this bid; we have talked to sponsors, ministers, and even the prime minister,” he reportedly said.
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