Tournament Organizer Makes U-Turn On Ukrainians After Criticism

Tournament Organizer Makes U-Turn On Ukrainians After Criticism


Pavel Kirs, the organizer of one of the biggest open tournaments in the Czech Republic, was forced to make a U-turn after facing heavy criticism and intervention by FIDE as he initially refused to accept registrations from Ukrainians with military service.

In an interview with the NSS chess website this week, Kirs said: “The current political situation does not favor chess, and the tournament is deprived of grandmasters from Ukraine. Even though they have signed up, we cannot accept them for serious reasons, although reluctantly.” 

After being asked by International Arbiter Tadeas Kriebel to clarify on Facebook, Kirs replied:

“My personal opinion is that Ukrainian men of military age should fight with a weapon in hand on the battlefield for their country and not in peace with wooden pieces in hand on a chessboard for money.”

He added:

“In the current situation, they should not leave their country, and they should be prepared for possible deployment and mobilization.”Many of Ukraine’s top players have already fled the war-torn country with their families, while athletes still there can get permission from the ministry to compete abroad for major tournaments.”

In another interview with Czechia, Kirs later clarified, “I shouldn’t have said that we can’t accept Ukrainian grandmasters, but I should have said that we can’t accept players—men in the military age of 18-60 years.”

One Ukrainian minor is currently registered to play Teplice Open, but no adults or grandmasters. is aware of at least two grandmasters who were denied registration.

The statements led to a wave of reactions after Kriebel shared them on Twitter.

The refusal to accept Ukrainian players eventually led to a reaction by FIDE. Its CEO Emil Sutovsky told Reuters that the organizer had been warned.

“The Teplice situation is resolved. The organiser changed his attitude upon getting a warning from FIDE. We were very clear that Ukrainians can’t be discriminated (against)—and they will be invited.” Sutovsky said.

Kirs confirmed to that he had retracted his comments.

“It’s a misunderstanding and my fault. I said it wrong. Chess players from Ukraine are welcome. It’s a week until the tournament. They can sign up. I will gladly accept them in the tournament,” he said.

Teplice Open takes place in the Czech city on June 10 and currently has 21 grandmasters among 236 players registered.  It has received funding from FIDE through the Open Aid project.


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