A volunteer sets a timer at the playing area ahead of the start of the 44th Chess Olympiad 2022 | AFP
Chennai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 44th Chess Olympiad here on Thursday, with the marquee event being hosted by India for the first time.
Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi, Chief Minister M K Stalin and Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur among others will be present during the opening ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor stadium in the city.
The sporting event will be held in the nearby Mamallapuram, about 50 km from here.
The Olympiad is being held in India for the first time ever, after being moved out of Russia and has attracted a record number of entries in the Open (188) and women's (162) sections.
Some of the game's biggest names will match their wits. The Torch relay, after traversing 75 cities in the past 40 days will reach the venue before the official opening.
Modi said he was looking forward to being in the city for the inauguration of the event.
"This is a special tournament and it is our honour that it is being held in India, that too in Tamil Nadu, which has a glorious association with chess," the PM tweeted.
The tournament will feature three Indian teams each in the Open and women's events. The legendary Viswanathan Anand will not be playing but will be seen in the role of a mentor to the players.
The Olympiad has captured the imagination of the chess-lovers and general public alike and the Tamil Nadu government has gone all out to promote the showpiece event.
Cutouts of 'Thambi', the Olympiad mascot--a knight wearing traditional Tamil attire, could be spotted at various places in the city and near the venue at Mamallapuram as the state government and the All-India Chess Federation (AICF) went on a promotion overdrive.
The Olympiad was moved out of Russia after it invaded neighbouring Ukraine earlier and was allotted to India with Chennai being chosen as the venue.
Players including Anand feel that the city hosting the event would have a great impact on chess in Tamil Nadu. PTI