Press release from Altibox Norway Chess
Kjell Madland and Benedicte Westre Skog
June 27, 2019
In March 2018, we were elected by the Norwegian Chess Federation as Norway’s candidate to bid for the World Chess Championship 2020. Prior to the unanimous vote by the Norwegian Chess Federation, there was an open and transparent process between several cities in Norway to find the best candidate. The Norwegian Chess Federation has worked actively for several years to ensure openness and transparency within their own organization and more actively outwards, especially in the World Chess Federation (FIDE).
After being chosen as Norway’s candidate to bid for the championship, we were made aware that the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, is hesitant to play a championship match in Norway. Carlsen believes that the pressure will be too big in his home country. For this reason, Carlsen has now asked us not to bid for the championship.
We have worked hard to be a top candidate to organize a fantastic World Chess Championship event, in every possible way, especially for the players. FIDE has on several occasions stated that we are very strong applicants for a Championship bid.
With the recent statements from Carlsen, we no longer see the point of continuing the process of getting the World Championship to Norway in 2020. It will be impossible for us as an organizer to work towards this goal when there is a lot of uncertainty around whether the World Champion is going to play in Norway or not.
“We are very disappointed with this outcome. The Rogaland region has been united behind this initiative and worked hard to secure that the next World Chess Championship will be in Stavanger. We are impressed by the very professional efforts of the organizers behind Altibox Norway Chess and are proud of what they have been able to establish in our region” -says Christine Sagen Helgø, Mayor of Stavanger and Solveig Ege Tengesdal, Rogaland County Mayor.
We have worked hard since fall 2018 to be able to bid for the Championship in Norway in 2020 and are now at the final stages of finalizing our application towards FIDE. We have managed to raise close to NOK 30 million from corporate sponsors and public funds. We are at the final stages with the Norwegian state where we have been asking for financial support, only waiting for final clarifications from the ministry. We have almost completed the application to FIDE and are only waiting for a positive response from the ministry before sending the bid. We have a very good dialogue with public authorities and FIDE has given us very positive feedback on the work we have done in this process.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank the companies and politicians, who have shown an enormous enthusiasm and contributed in many ways to create a strong bid for Norway. Local top politicians have shown us a tremendous amount of support, much because we have proven over several years that we are a professional organization with great results. Our main goal was to ensure a highly professional event with optimal playing conditions. We wanted to use the enthusiasm and attention that comes with the World Championship to create solid and positive side effects for chess in Norway, especially for children and youth, and for chess on a global level. We wanted to use the unique expertise we have to develop an even stronger foundation for the Altibox Norway Chess tournament, which is highly respected in the world chess community. Through the annual tournament, we have high ambitions to contribute to something that is positive for people far beyond ourselves. During the past seven years we have been doing this, we have created something we are very proud of, mostly on a complete voluntary basis.
We are now choosing to end the process of working towards a World Chess Championship in Norway in 2020 and will once again emphasize our deepest gratitude to the sponsors and politicians who have agreed to provide financial support for the event. We hope that private companies and politicians will continue to contribute to the Altibox Norway Chess tournament, an important player in chess in Norway and chess worldwide.