Norwegian officials say they’re looking forward to welcome the world to Tromsø in 2014, after the World Chess Federation picked the northern city to host the Chess Olympiad four years from now.
“Fantastic,” the secretary general of Norway’s chess association (Norges Sjakkforbund), Dag Danielsen, told news bureau NTB when the decision was announced Saturday.
Anniken Huitfeldt, the government minister in charge of culture and sports issues, had traveled along with the mayor of Tromsø, Arild Hausberg, to the Russian city of Khanty-Mansijsk to lobby hard for Tromsø before the decision was made there. Tromsø won 95 votes from the World Chess Federation compared to just 47 for its rival, the Bulgarian city of Albena.
Huitfeldt said she’d been confident of victory but was surprised that Tromsø won by such a large margin. “I’m delighted that Tromsø was chosen to arrange the event,” she told NTB, calling chess “one of the world’s greatest sports,” that will bring people from around 150 countries and lots of prestige to Tromsø when the international chess elite gathers to compete.
She credited Norwegian chess champion Magnus Carlsen, who’s been ranked as the top player in the world, with helping to put Norway on the world chess map. His stature also helped convince the Norwegian government to commit NOK 70 million (about USD 11 million) to help fund the event.
The Chess Olympiad is held every other year, with teams from all over the world competing against each other. The first Chess Olympiad was held in London in 1927.
Danielsen hopes the Chess Olympiad in Tromsø will further boost interest for chess in Norway. “In Norway, chess is a small sport compared to countries like Russia, Bulgaria and Spain,” Danielsen said. He noted there was full support for Tromsø’s bid for the Chess Olympiad from all parties represented on the city council, and that organizers were already underway with their plans.