ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has withdrawn from the world’s biggest international chess tournament in protest at hosts India holding a torch relay for the event through the disputed Kashmir valley, officials said Thursday.

The 44th Chess Olympiad will see over 1,700 players from 188 nations compete in Chen­nai from now until August 10.

The last two competitions were played virtually because of the pandemic.

By passing the torch relay through India-held Kashmir, “India has committed a travesty that the international community cannot accept under any circumstances,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said the matter would also be raised with the International Chess Federation and condemned the “mischievous attempt to mix politics with sports”.

A spokesman for India’s foreign ministry called the decision “surprising” and in turn accused Pakistan of politicising the event.

“I was told the team was already here,” Arindam Bagchi said.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2022

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