A solemn opening ceremony of the 42nd Chess Olympiad has been held at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, his wife Mehriban Aliyeva, and family members, as well as President of World Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and other delegates of the organization, world chess champions, state and government officials attended the ceremony.
The anthems of the Republic of Azerbaijan and FIDE were played. A video on the development of sports, including chess in Azerbaijan was screened.
Chairman of the Organizing Committee of Baku Chess Olympiad, Azerbaijans first Deputy Prime Minister Yaqub Eyyubov addressed the event.
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov then made a speech.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev declared the 42nd Chess Olympiad open.
The Chess Olympiad is one of the major events in the world of sports, attracting more than 150 countries and around 3,000 athletes and officials. FIDE organized the first Official Olympiad (the name Olympiad became official only in 1952) in 1927 in London. The Olympiads were held occasionally and at irregular intervals until World War II. There was a long break from 1939 until 1950 but since 1950 they have been held regularly every two years. 41 Olympiads have been organized since 1927.
The 42nd Olympiad in Baku will come down in history with a record-breaking participation of teams representing 176 countries � a total of 181 mens and 142 women's teams will compete in this sporting event.
The host country Azerbaijan will be represented by three teams in both sections. Azerbaijan mens team includes Shahriyar Mammadyarov, Teymur Rajabov, Rauf Mammadov, Eltaj Safarli and Arkadij Naiditsch. Azerbaijan 2 team is comprised of Vasif Durarbayli, Namig Guliyev, Gadir Huseynov, Nijat Abasov and Ulvi Bajarani. Azerbaijan 3 team consists of Nail Bashirli, Muhammad Muradli, Vugar Asadli, Parviz Gasimov and Abdulla Gadimbayli.
Azerbaijan womens team includes Zeynab Mammadyarova, Gunay Mammadzade, Aydan Hojjatova, Gulnar Mammadova and Narmin Kazimova. Azerbaijan 2 team is comprised of Turkan Mammadyarova, Nargiz Umudova, Khayala Abdulla, Ulviyya Fataliyeva and Narmin Khalafova. Azerbaijan 3 team consists of Narmin Mammadova, Khanim Balajayeva, Govhar Beydullayeva, Ayan Allahverdiyeva and Aynur Katanova.
In the mens event, Russia is the top seed of the Olympiad with an average score of 2760. The USA (2740) and China (2735) are second and third respectively. Azerbaijan is fourth with an average score of 2705.
China is the top seed in the womens event with an average score of 2528. Russia (2493) and Ukraine (2485) are second and third seeds respectively. Azerbaijan (2320) is fourth.
The Organizing Committee was set up by an order of President Ilham Aliyev on February 14, 2013 with the aim of ensuring excellent organization of the Chess Olympiad. The Organizing Committee has done a great job to fulfil this task. Perfect conditions were created at Baku Crystal Hall, where the games of the Olympiad will take place. Visa regulations for athletes and delegates visiting Azerbaijan were simplified under the Presidents order. All measures were taken to ensure safety of the athletes. Over 500 volunteers were engaged.
More than 250 local and foreign media representatives will cover the Chess Olympiad.
In parallel with the Olympiad Baku will also host FIDE Congress, which will see participation of delegates from 183 countries.
Thirty Azerbaijani arbiters will officiate at the Olympiad.
The first round will start at 15.00 on September 2. The 11-round Olympiad will wrap up on September 13.