Reports | September 11, 2012 9:16

A warm welcome for the Armenian team

A warm welcome for the Armenian team

After their victory at the Olympiad in Istanbul the Armenian team received a warm welcome in their native country. At the Zvartnots airport in Yerevan the Armenian President greeted and congratulated the players, who also drove around in an open car, greeted by thousands of fans.

Yet again it became clear how big chess is in Armenia, the country that won the 40th Olympiad in Istanbul. As is now tradition, President Serzh Sargsyan, who is also the head of the chess federation, sent his private airplane to Istanbul to pick up the players. The winners flew to Yerevan on Monday evening and received an official welcome and state celebration.

At Zvartnots airport the President awaited the players, who won their third gold in four Olympiads. According to Armenpress an army of fans had gathered and after the grandmaster stepped out of the plane the national anthem of Armenia was played. The Armenian team consisted of Levon Aronian, Gabriel Sargissian, Tigran Petrosian, Vladimir Akopian and Sergei Movsesian.

After the official ceremony Serzh Sargsyan took the players to Liberty Square where they participated in a gala concert in their honor. The mayor of Yerevan had made sure that the square was decorated for the occasion.

Below is a video by (thanks Tarjei) and photos from the Olympiad website.

Dancers start the festivities at a chess-themed Liberty Square

The Armenian team together with their President

Team captai Arshak Petrosian (r.) shows the cup...

...and holds it up on stage

Levon Aronian also won gold on board one... next to his good friend Gabriel Sargissian

A speech towards the fans by the captain of the team

The players leave the stage - Tigran Petrosian in front

Dancers at the end of the gala concert

A white car drove the players...

...through the streets of Yerevan...

...while they were cheered by many fans

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Horst's picture

That's the way to treat your heroes! Suppose Levon Aronian had had trouble arriving in Istanbul before the event because of an expired passport. One phone call to Mr. Sargsyan and the issue would have been solved. Yet the Netherlands had to do without Giri the first days, what a pity! Where is our queen when we need her?! (See also Hans Ree's column:

Harry_Flashman's picture

What about checking you passport expiry date in advance ?? The more if you are a frequent travelling chess professional.. ;-)

Patrick's picture

The passport had not expired but was stuck in a Visa process for the upcoming London GP!

Harry_Flashman's picture

I see.. Hasn't Giri a Dutch passport ? It shouldn't be necessary a visa to visit GB if you're a Dutchman.. Maybe i'm missing something..

valg321's picture

in his interview during the olympiad, he said his passport is russian

Thomas's picture

The Grand Prix was moved to London at relatively short notice, but apparently others (Ivanchuk, Grischuk, Mamedyarov) still got their visa in time and their passports back. However, maybe Kasimdzhanov (if I am not mistaken, living in Germany) had the same problem as Giri - he also played only from round 5 onwards but the Uzbek team did rather well even without him.

Does this mean that some British embassies are slow in handling visa requests because they don't get too many? All the Dutch queen could have done is "contact her British colleague" :) but that might be complicated and time-consuming.

Lee's picture

Seeing the Armenian team treated to this fanfare was great. I can't imagine how many countries would do the same for their chess team.

Well done lads.

valg321's picture

yes, they received the same spectacular welcome also in 2008

Tarjei's picture

ChessVibes: No credit for the video tip? :)

Peter Doggers's picture


Tarjei's picture


Anonymous's picture

Thank you for covering the celebration. The coverage of the winners were rather thin on the official Olympiad web site it seemed.

B L's picture

That is so awesome to see the way they celebrate these champions!

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