Pakistan team returns after boycotting Chess Olympiad in India

The Pakistani team which went to India to participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad, returned home  via Wagah border, after boycotting the event.

The Pakistani team was invited to the event in Chennai, India, by the International Chess Federation. However, Pakistan boycotted the event in protest against the passing the event torch through the areas of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan's Foreign Office strongly condemned India's attempt to politicise sports. It said that the purpose of relaying the torch through the internationally-recognised disputed territory was an Indian ploy to deceive the international community.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said that India should know that such actions could legitimise India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir. Pakistan has also decided to raise this issue with the International Chess Federation.

Despite its team reaching India, Pakistan chose to withdraw from the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled, which began in Mamallapuram (about 50 km from Chennai) on Thursday. The neighbouring country was not happy with India’s torch relay through Kashmir on July 21.Citing the torch relay, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar told Radio Pakistan, "Pakistan was invited by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to participate in the Chess Olympiad. A Pakistani contingent was already training for this event... India chose to politicize this prestigious international sporting event."

The country's foreign ministry also issued a statement on its boycott that read, "Pakistan condemns India's mischievous attempt to mix politics with sports. As a protest, Pakistan has decided not to participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad and will also raise the matter with the International Chess Federation at the highest level."
India's response
India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has called Pakistan's withdrawal "surprising". MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "It is surprising that Pakistan has taken a decision not to participate in Chess Olympiad even after their team reached India. It is highly unfortunate that Pakistan has politicised the prestigious international event by making such statements."
Bagchi also asserted that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh “have been, are and will remain an integral part of India.”
Things to know about Chess Olympiad 2022
Besides Pakistan, China has also decided to not send a team for the event. Meanwhile, FIDE has banned Russian and Belarusian teams in response to the war in Ukraine. However, 185 countries from around the world will compete in the event. Norway's Magnus Carlsen, currently the world's best chess player, is also in Chennai for the event.
The tournament will conclude on August 9. State-run Doordarshan TV live-telecasts the games. You can also stream it on the YouTube channels of Chessbase India and FIDE.
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