Spectacular Baku Chess Olympiad flag ceremony of all nations, a must see:

Video of drawing of colors by Kramnik & Hou Yifan:

Video of dancing act:

The 42nd Chess Olympiad was officialy opened

The 42nd Chess Olympiad was opened with a solemn but highly entertaining ceremony, held at the Baku National Gymnastics Arena, attended by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, his wife Mehriban Aliyeva, family members, the President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and other delegates, world chess champions as well as various state and government officials. Players, captains and delegates of the 176 participating federations filled the National Gymnastics Arena to enjoy a wonderful evening.

After the anthems of the Republic of Azerbaijan and FIDE, a video on the development of sports, including chess, in Azerbaijan was screened. The Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Baku Chess Olympiad, Azerbaijan’s first Deputy Prime Minister Yaqub Eyyubov addressed the public, commenting on the great contribution of the President and his father to the sporting successes of the host country, before pointing out the great effort that has gone into the preparations for the Olympiad. Finally, he stated his confidence that everything is ready for a well-organized and enjoyable Olympiad and promised this to be one of the most memorable in chess history.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov took the stage next, welcoming all participants of this record-breaking Olympiad, which boasts 181 teams in the Open section and 142 in the Women’s. The President extolled the great preparatory work carried out by the Organizing Committee and expressed his belief in the success of the Baku Olympiad, based on the vast experience of Azerbaijan in hosting important chess events as well as its remarkable infrastructure and beauty, before closing with the FIDE motto “Gens Una Sumus” (we are one family).

The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, then declared the 42nd Chess Olympiad open.

The artistic part of the opening ceremony featured some remarkable visuals, paired with several dancing sequences that captivated the audience. After a short piece showcasing the influence of the sea in Azerbaijani tradition, the main focus of the ceremony was the connection between people and chessmen, with a beautiful waltz choreography being the centerpiece of the show. This was followed by a stunning graphical show, featuring traditional carpet patterns and designs, embracing a dance group replaying a game of Chaturanga (an ancient form of chess). Next was the traditional parade of flags of all the participating nations; this was carried out both by visuals and by dancers holding nagaras (a traditional Azerbaijani percussion instrument) painted with the colors of each flag; they left the stage under the sound of an adaptation of “We Are The World”.

Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan joined the Chief Arbiter Faik Gasanov on stage for the drawing of colors, as leaders of the highest-rated teams in the two sections; Kramnik was less fortunate than his colleague, drawing the black pieces for his team in the first round (Hou drew white). This ceremonial administrative task concluded the main part of the ceremony, which was closed by a song specially composed for the Olympiad and performed by popular Azerbaijani singers. Then it was time for everyone to go home – except the team captains, who stayed for the Captain’s Meeting and other formalities before the beginning of the chess part of the Olympiad.

The Chess Olympiad is a major event in the world of sports, generally attracting more than 150 countries and around 3,000 athletes and officials. FIDE organized the first official Olympiad in 1927 in London (the actual name “Olympiad” was introduced later, in 1952). 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. In total, 41 Olympiads have been organized since 1927.
The 42nd Olympiad in Baku will go down in history, in view of its record-breaking participation of teams representing 176 countries – a total of 181 men`s and 142 women’s teams will compete in this great sporting event. The host country, Azerbaijan, will be represented by three teams in each section.

In the Open section, Russia is the top seed of the Olympiad, with an average rating of 2760. USA (2740) and China (2735) are second and third respectively, while host team Azerbaijan is fourth seed with an average rating of 2705. China is the top seed in the Women`s event with an average rating of 2528. Russia (2493) and Ukraine (2485) are second and third seeds respectively, while Azerbaijan (2320) is seeded fourth here as well.

The Organizing Committee of the Baku Olympiad was set up by an order of President Ilham Aliyev on February 14th, 2013, with the aim of ensuring the best possible organization of the Chess Olympiad. The Organizing Committee has done a great job to fulfil this task: ideal conditions were created at the Baku Crystal Hall, where the games of the Olympiad will take place. Visa regulations for athletes and delegates visiting Azerbaijan were simplified under the President`s order, while all possible measures were taken to ensure the safety of the athletes. Thirty Azerbaijani arbiters will officiate at the Olympiad, headed by Chief Arbiter Faik Gasanov. Over 500 volunteers are engaged in all aspects of the Olympiad, both during the preparatory phase and the event itself.

More than 250 local and foreign media representatives will be covering the Chess Olympiad, for a great variety of media, printed and electronic. In parallel with the Olympiad, Baku will also host the annual FIDE Congress, with participation of delegates from 183 countries.

The first round of the Olympiad commences at 15.00 on September 2nd. The 11-round event concludes on September 13th.


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