The FIDE 2020 Candidates Tournament was brought to a halt after the decision of the Russian authorities to stop all international flights as of March 27. By that point, half of the tournament had been played (seven out of 14 rounds) and the chess community and the world, in general, had had a chance to enjoy spectacular games, a welcome distraction from the rolling news about the coronavirus.
Explaining the decision to halt the Candidates, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said that the stopping of international flights to/from Russia would have “put too much pressure on the players and participants in terms of how and when they will be able to return home”. He added that FIDE did “everything to ensure the safe and secure return of everyone to their homes”. On the morning of the announcement by the Russian government, and following the decision to stop the event, FIDE immediately sorted out travel for both players and staff, by purchasing tickets and organizing a charter flight to ensure everyone’s speedy and safe return home.
The Candidates tournament is one of the most important chess events of the year – to both the players and the chess community – and is directly connected to the match for the title of World Champion. This year’s event has a prize fund of 500,000 euros, which is the biggest ever for a Candidates tournament. FIDE was committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that play went ahead, providing maximum safety and security for all involved, which was maintained for the duration of the event. It should also be noted that every decision about the event was made in consultation and agreement with the players who took part.