Chess Olympiad: India and Russia both get gold after controversial final

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A close-up image of a chess board
Image caption More than 160 countries have been competing in this year’s tournament

India and Russia have been declared joint winners of a major international chess tournament after two Indian players lost their internet connection during the final round.

An online version of the Chess Olympiad contest is being held for the first time this year because of coronavirus.

India appealed after two of its players lost connection to their games and forfeited on time.

Officials said these were “unprecedented circumstances”.

“The Online Chess Olympiad has been impacted by a global internet outage, that severely affected several countries, including India. Two of the Indian players have been affected and lost connection, when the outcome of the match was still unclear,” Arkady Dvorkovich, president of the International Chess Federation, said in a statement.

He said he decided to award both teams gold medals in the “absence of a unanimous decision” from the body’s appeals committee.

Teams from more than 160 countries have participated in this year’s online event, which began in July.

But the final is not the first time the tournament has come under scrutiny.

Armenia on Friday said one of its players was disconnected from the server during its quarterfinal match against India, and lost on time. Its appeal was rejected and the country withdrew from the competition in protest.

The 44th Chess Olympiad was scheduled to take place in Russia this month but was postponed until next year because of the pandemic.