World u-16 Chess Olympiad has officially begun with the opening ceremony today. After a moment of silence in memory of the founding president of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkish National Anthem and FIDE Anthem were sung before the speakers began with their speeches.
The first speechmaker was FIDE Executive Director Mr. Nigel Freeman who began with a warm welcome to all participants on behalf of FIDE. The Executive Director underlined that organizing two olympiads simultaneously takes a great effort and showed thus his praise. He also added that it is nice for young participants to be in a city like Istanbul and it’s definitely a good chance for them to visit some beautiful sights and making new friends along the way.
After welcoming everyone General Secretary of FIDE, Ignatius Leong, mentioned that he liked the idea of organizing both the Olympiad and u-16 Olympiad at the same time and venue very much, giving a chance to young players to see world’s best players in action. Obviously it is a challenging task but according to Mr. Leong the organizers has done their best so far and he applauded them for their efforts. Also he observes that chess is very developed in Turkey compared to 12 years ago when the chess olympiad was held in Istanbul for the first time and drastic changes in the development of chess have occurred since then. The General Secretary finally expressed best wishes for all the athletes and made the claim that as chess is recognized as a sport by International Olympic Committee and is also included in World University Olympics this year it is not wrong to call the players as athletes.
FIDE Vice President and President of Turkish Chess Federation (TCF) Ali Nihat Yazıcı started his speech by saying that he is really happy to have 40 teams from 31 different countries as guests here. After wishing all young players to have the chance to play in the main Olympiad in future, Mr. Yazıcı introduced and thanked the Mayor of Bayrampaşa, Atila Aydıner for their support.
The final speech was given by the Mayor Atila Aydıner. Thanking TCF and its president Ali Nihat Yazıcı, Mr. Aydiner expressed his gratitude for all the participants who showed interest in this beautiful organization. He also stated that he is proud to organize and host players from all over the world, coming from different nations, beliefs and cultures. Moving on with his speech, Mayor Aydiner talked about the useful abilities gained with the help of chess such as strategic thinking, self confidence and decision-making and how they might lead to success in life. Aydiner congratulated the federation for increasing the number of chess players in Turkey rapidly. Wishing all the best to players, the Mayor ended his speech.
The symbolic opening move has followed after the ceremony and Mr. Mayor made the first move for the first board thus giving the start to an exciting Olympiad! Best wishes and success to all participants!