Reports | May 31, 2013 16:25

FIDE at SportAccord: will chess ever become an Olympic sport?

This week representatives of the World Chess Federation were in Saint Petersburg, attending the 2013 SportAccord Convention. On Wednesday a chess presentation was given by local grandmasters Nikita Vitiugov & Maxim Matlakov, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was elected President of the International Mind Sports Association and the FIDE people met with representatives of the International Olympiad Committee. Will chess ever become an Olympic sport?

A presentation of chess at the SportAccord Convention in St Petersburg | Photo courtesy of FIDE

To start with the question in the intro: the last time we checked, there wasn't the slightest chance that chess would become an Olympic sport. New in Chess Magazine dedicated some paragraphs to the subject in their "NIC's Café" section, about one and a half years ago (issue 2011/06), when FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had just visited the Philippines where he met with the Head of the National Olympic Committee, Jose Cojuangco Jr. Apparently Mr Cojuangco had signed an appeal to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr. Jacques Rogge, and the IOC members requesting the inclusion of chess in the Olympic Games programme.

Back then, Ilyumzhinov was optimistic as always and said that there were "good chances". New in Chess decided to contact the IOC in Lausanne, and received the following reply:

To answer your question, please note that Chess is considered a "Mind Sport" and as part of its systematic review of the Sports Programme in 2002 the Olympic Programme Commission concluded that "Mind Sports" should not be eligible for admission to the Programme and there has been no change to these conclusions since then. (...) Federations of sports which are not eligible to be considered for the Olympic Programme should be informed of this to avoid any unnecessary communication, lobbying and expense on their behalf.

A few months later, in the 2012/01 issue, New in Chess had a bit more on this subject. We'll quote the relevant part:

A visitor to our café with good connections in FIDE tried to explain the situation. Of course there is a general understanding in FIDE that under Rogge chess will not join the Olympic Programme. But Rogge will not be President forever. And among the candidates to succeed him are pole-vault legend Sergey Bubka, who is a chess lover, and Alexander Zhukov, head of the organizing committee of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics anf active member of the Advisory Board of the Russian Chess Federation!

FIDE is still trying. Especially the last part was interesting to read again, because it was Alexander Zhukov (among others) who visited the FIDE stand at the 2013 SportAccord Convention.

SportAccord is the umbrella organisation for all Olympic and non-Olympic international sports federations as well as organisers of multi-sports games and sport-related international associations. They have 91 full members (international sports federations governing specific sports worldwide) and 16 associate members (organisations which conduct activities closely related to the international sports federations).

The SportAccord International Convention is an annual gathering of the leading representatives from the sport industry, owned and endorsed by the sports movement itself. It was created and is owned by SportAccord, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the Association of International Olympic Winter Federations (AIOWF).

FIDE attended the convention and published a number of articles about it on its website. In FIDE Stand at SportAccord Convention it was announced that on 27 May the FIDE stand was opened in the exhibition complex "Lenexpo" in Saint Petersburg.

Mr. Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Speaker of Russian State Duma and President of the Russain Olympic Committee stopped by FIDE stand on Tuesday and played a blitz game against FIDE President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

It was also visited by Mr. Azad Rahimov, the Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan and IOC member; AIBA President Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, who is at the present time one of the contenders for the IOC President post, Mr. Nenad Lalovic, President of International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, Mr. Mikhail Mamiashvili, President of Russian Wrestling Federation, Dr. Klaus Schormann, President of International Union of Modern Pentathlon and IOC member, Mr. Vyacheslav Aminov, President of Russian Modern Pentathlon Federation and many others.

In Demonstration zone at SportAccord: Chess Presentation it says that on 29 May a chess presentation took place.

Its main idea was to show to the guests and participants of the Convention how the most up-to-date technologies available to everyone can be used in the one of the more ancient of mankind's games, and how chess can connect people regardless of their location, language skills and social status.

GMs Nikita Vitiugov and Maxim Matlakov took part in the presentation and played several blitz games. There was also commentary to the games by WGM Irina Sudakova and FIDE CEO Geoffrey Borg.

Photo courtesy of FIDE

On the same day FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was elected President of the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA).

From the moment of its foundation IMSA was headed by the Honourary President of the World Bridge Federation Mr. Jose Damiani. This year he celebrates his 74th birthday that is why he decided not to run as a candidate for the third term of presidency in IMSA.

The International Mind Sports Association was founded in 2005 by four international mind sports organizations: the World Bridge Federation, the World Draughts Federation, the International Go Federation and the World Chess Federation. The World Xiangqi Federation is an associate member of IMSA without the right to vote. Just like in FIDE, Ilyumzhinov has been voted President for a period of four years.

There was also a brief article mentioning a meeting between FIDE and the IOC. 

FIDE Treasurer and Executive Director, Nigel Freeman, Director of the FIDE Moscow Office, Berik Balgabaev and FIDE CEO, Geoffrey Borg met with the IOC's Christian Wassmer and Coralie McConell at SportAccord in Saint Petersburg. They discussed FIDE's relationship with the IOC and the IOC confirmed that FIDE continued to comply with IOC requirements.

At least Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler know that their drug test after the 9th round of the FIDE Candidates tournament in London was not done for nothing: the IOC has confirmed that FIDE continued to comply with IOC requirements! Whatever that means for the chances that chess will become an Olympic sport, remains to be seen.

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.


Sergio Henrique Riedel's picture

it is worth to try.

Chess Is A Game's picture

Chess is a game. But I like the idea of a "Mind Sports" organization.

Anon's picture

The question is unanswerable as such. Please rephrase.

Anonymous's picture

How to trick them to accept a but-sitting sport, with occasional smoking breaks and often toilet breaks??

Anonymous's picture

Chess is different as it is a mind game, I really don't get why it should be an olympic sport. The olympiad is overloaded as it is already and certainly doesn't need chess as an addition. And vice versa.

casaubon's picture

I agree the Olympics doesn't need chess, but you can't see how chess would benefit from being included in the Olympics?

Extreme milk's picture

I agree, but I think also, chess doesn`t have any physical movements a lot.

Sexy love sex's picture

^You are right my sexy baby^

SierraSunset's picture

Nobody seems to be asking (except here in the comments) - do we really WANT chess to be an Olympic sport?

It feels too much like a desperate attempt to look "cool". (And I'm sure FIDE is really only interested in the Olympic $$$).

casaubon's picture

Of course FIDE is only interested in the Olympic $$$.
Chess is a cash starved sport where only a handful of players can earn a living from playing the game.
If looking "cool" is what it takes to change that then so be it.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Then the next question should be: how many players should be able to earn a living from playing the game?

Anonymous's picture

Everyone is interested in $$$.

RG13's picture

Why doesn't the IMSA hold their own games?

RG13's picture

Does anyone know why Shogi isn't represented in the IMSA?

Anonymous's picture

Please, IOC, don't make FIDE more arrogant, unfriendly, inward-looking, unwilling to tackle problems, and aloof to average amateur chess than it already is.

sundararajan ganesan's picture

chess has its own unique olympiad and efforts to get it included in the regular olympics is superfluous!

redivivo's picture

I hope not.

PeterV's picture

Nonsense issue

Anonymous's picture

Why is swimming an Olympic sport and in fact a sport at all?

Donald Trump's picture

The Olympics are meaningless. They got rid of wrestling, and instead they feature 14 year old girls twirling ribbons as a "sport".

Anon's picture

"The IOC set out to revamp the Games programme to make it more relevant to a younger generation of fans and sponsors."

Anonymous's picture

We have to get chess into Olympics fast, as aliens are coming, then no more chance, more sports vs aliens will be popular.

AAR's picture

Olympics is for Sports not for Games.

Game of Chess already has Chess Olympiad.

Anonymous's picture

Agree, chess does not belong in the olympic games.

Steve Borsuk's picture

Hello,you guys done wonderful job by sharing this article with us about which we were previously unaware but now we get some knowledge about it.

Steve Borsuk's picture

Hello,you guys done wonderful job by sharing this article with us about which we were previously unaware but now we get some knowledge about it.

Steve Borsuk's picture

Hello,you guys done wonderful job by sharing this article with us about which we were previously unaware but now we get some knowledge about it.

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