PH bats for inclusion of chess in Olympics

THE PHILIPPINES became the first country to officially endorse the inclusion of chess in the 2014 Russia Winter Olympics following yesterday’s courtesy visit of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco.

Cojuangco was the first national Olympic committee leader to sign the endorsement letter addressed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“Chess is a legitimate sport played internationally. Its inclusion (in the Olympics) is long overdue,” said Cojuangco. “It will also give us the opportunity to compete in the Winter Games again.”

The Philippines last sent a delegation in the quadrennial event in 1994.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) President Prospero “Butch” Pichay accompanied Ilyumzhinov in the courtesy visit. He lauded Cojuangco for supporting the initiative.

“We have several world-class chess players and they are mostly young,” said Pichay. “If the breaks go our way, we can even produce a medal in world competitions.”

He noted that the Philippines finished second only to China in the men’s chess team competition of the Asian Games.

“There is no better setting for us to showcase our talent than the Olympics,” Pichay said.

Ilyumzhinov is lobbying to add chess in the Olympic calendar for some time now. He is currently touring Asia to seek the support of IOC members from the region.

According to Ilyumzhinov, around 50 IOC members have already vouched their support for the inclusion of chess in the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Philippines was the first to put it in writing.

The IOC has 116 voting members.

“We need to get a majority vote from the IOC members to make it happen,” said Ilyumzhinov. “So far, we’re getting positive response from most of them.”

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