Ding Liren, the No. 2 player in the world and the best player from China, who is presently competing in the Candidates tournament in Madrid, responded to a query on the sidelines of the competition by stating that neither he nor the team will be participating in the Olympiad. Liren said, "No, I don't think the Chinese squad will participate.
However, according to AICF secretary and Olympiad Tournament Director Bharat Singh Chauhan, the Chinese did not provide any justification for their withdrawal. "The Chinese men's and women's (Open) teams won't be competing in the Chennai Olympiad. The causes are obscure, "He said to PTI.
China would have been one of the Olympiad's top medal contenders, therefore their absence would increase India's prospects.
Ding Liren, the No. 2 player in the world and the best player from China, has said that neither he nor the team will participate in the Olympics while they are taking place in Madrid.
At the chess Olympiads held in Tromso (Norway) in 2014 and Batumi (Georgia) in 2018, the Open team from China won the gold medal. At the last two Olympics, which were held in Baku and Batumi, respectively, the Chinese women's team took home the gold medal.
Leading chess trainer and Grandmaster R B Ramesh believes that India's chances are improved by the absence of both China and Russia.
Ramesh, the coach of India's "B" team in the Open division, told PTI that the absence of China and Russia "increases our prospects for a medal."
In the Open and women's divisions, the host India will enter two teams each, with the potential of adding a third team if the entries fall into an odd number.
The top athletes from the host country, including Vidit Gujrathi, P Harikrishna, K Sasikiran, R Praggnanandhaa (among the men) and Koneru Humpy, D Harika, R Vaishali, and Vantika Agarwal (among the women), are divided into two squads for the Open and women's events and are expected to contend for top honours.
Viswanathan Anand, a five-time winner, has chosen to advise the players instead.