Only hours after the arrival of the Pakistani chess delegation in Chennai for the 44th Chess Olympiad 2022, the Pakistan External Affairs Ministry in Islamabad announced the Pakistani teams will not participate in the 2022 Chess Olympiad. The explanation to pull out the team from the Olympiad referred to the torch relay passing through Jammu and Kashmir, a region that has been known for an armed conflict between India and Pakistan.
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Islamabad described the torch relay through Kashmir as a “travesty” and called upon India to free political prisoners in the Valley: “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. (…) By passing the torch relay through IIOJK (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir), in utter disregard of the globally acknowledged “disputed” status of the territory, India has committed a travesty that the international community cannot accept under any circumstances. India must know that by such provocative and indefensible actions, it can neither seek nor claim international legitimacy for its unjustifiable, illegal and tyrannical occupation of IIOJK continuing for over 7 decades.” says the statement.
Conveying India’s position, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India Mr. Bagchi said in response, “It is surprising that Pakistan has taken the decision to not participate in the FIDE chess Olympiad, particularly after its team has reached India. Insofar as their argument being given on Jammu and Kashmir — the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir have been ours and will remain an integral part of India. It is highly unfortunate that Pakistan has politicized a prestigious international event by making such statements and withdrawing its participation.“
Earlier, China also pulled out of the Chess Olympiad 2022 making the team of USA favorites