By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Chess grandmaster Sergey Karjakin, who last year was banned for publicly backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is unlikely to take part in the World Cup after his social media followers urged him not to participate without the Russian flag or anthem.
World number 11 Karjakin missed last year’s Candidates Tournament after the international federation (FIDE) handed him a six-month suspension for breaching their ‘Code of Ethics’.
Since his ban expired, Karjakin has only played competitively in Russia.
Athletes from Russia and Belarus had been banned from competitions following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special military operation’.
They have since returned to competition, albeit as individual neutral athletes. Teams, however, from those two countries, are still banned from competitions.
On his Telegram page, the 33-year-old posted a video, in which he said: “I’ve received an invitation from FIDE for the World Cup. It’s my favourite tournament, with a knockout format. I’ve played well there in the past. But in the upcoming tournament I can’t represent my country, play under my (country’s) flag, and if I successfully perform, I will not hear my country’s national anthem.
“I am categorically against this. My position doesn’t change and I have voiced it many times. It’s my position and I want to know what my followers think.”
Under the video is a poll, asking: “Play without a flag and anthem.”
On Thursday, the ongoing poll had 90% of the participants saying ‘no’.
The International federation responded by saying Karjakin was not invited but eligible.
“He keeps using it for his patriotic agenda. FIDE is very clear – and that is a policy for 15 months already – neutral flag for only Russian/Belarus athletes, and they can’t participate as a team – only as individuals,” FIDE CEO Emil Sutovsky told Reuters.
“Additionally, it is wrong to claim that FIDE ‘invited Karjakin’ as some did. He earned his spot for the event back in 2021, and it is not a matter of inviting or not – it is our legal obligation.
“Worth noting that Karjakin already served half-year ban for his pro-war statements.”
The World Cup runs from July 30-Aug. 24 in Baku.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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Source: The Print