The remaining seven rounds of the FIDE flagship event the Candidates are facing a fresh crisis as Chinese Star Wang Hao is considering withdrawing from the event scheduled to resume November 1 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The 31-year-old GM said the tournament should be moved from Russia because the host country is “not safe” and accused FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich of “rudeness” towards him.
In September FIDE announced that the Candidates will resume with the 8th round on November 1st in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The event that decides Magnus Carlsen's challenger for the World Championship title was halted abruptly on March 26th when only 7 rounds had been played.
On Monday, Wang Hao published e-mails he has had with FIDE lawyer Alexandr Martynov where he has made it clear that he is not a fan of the idea of holding the event in Russia. He has not yet decided whether he will participate.
Russia, like most of Europe and many other countries, is experiencing a spike in new Covid-19 cases and broke 10,000 new cases on October 4th, its highest number since May 15.
According to screenshots published on his private Facebook account, seen by chess24, FIDE has offered Hao a private flight, directly from Beijing to Yekaterinburg and is also willing to cover a business-class flight and VIP transfer in Germany, in case he needs a stopover. He also turned down offers to play in Tbilisi, FIDE's reserve venue, as he does not consider airports in Europe safe.
The World no. 12 is concerned with the venue in Russia. chess24 reached out to Wang Hao, who commented:
We are still discussing. But I was very disappointed and angry with the attitude of FIDE and the rudeness of the president.
The response comes after FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich intervened in the conversation with the following:
Wang Hao followed up:
I think that it’s risky to have the tournament this November. If FIDE wants to resume the tournament in November, the tournament cannot be held in some place which is not safe like Russia. And somewhere is easy for players to go, to have a direct flight, make sure less possibility of the infection. Also, players need to be compensated if they get infected during the way or in the tournament place, because we are taking risks.
After Round 7, Wang Hao finds himself one point behind the leaders Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi, who scored 4.5.
The Chinese player, who qualified by winning the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss tournament, had already expressed safety fears prior to the event.
He was not alone. Azerbaijan Grandmaster Teimour Radjabov also predicted big problems and went one step further by withdrawing before the tournament.
Radjabov was replaced by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and the tournament started as scheduled. The 33-year-old has since said he wants his place back and was reportedly considering legal options.
Asked whether dropping out of the event is an option, the Chinese star says:
I am not sure about it. It depends on how the discussion goes.
According to the Regulations of the FIDE Candidates, Wang Hao will be considered to have lost his remaining games:
5. 3. If a player withdraws after completing 50% or more of the games, the rest of his games are lost by default. In case a player completes less than 50%, all his results are annulled.
FIDE confirms to chess24 that discussions with Wang Hao are ongoing. General Director Emil Sutovsky made the following response:
FIDE makes a huge work trying to secure safest and at the same time most comfortable environment for players. Objectively, it is not easy - and we see that even in Stavanger foreign players had to quarantine for 10 days. We are going to resolve it without obliging players to quarantine, and we also are in constant touch with every one of them discussing every detail. It is a monumental task, but we realize how important it is and make every effort and beyond that.
Leon Watson contributed to this report for chess24.
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