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Russia's exit from top European sports body approved

Russia will become part of the Asian Chess Federation if accepted, the international body has ruled

Russia is free to leave the European Chess Union (ECU) and join its Asian counterpart, should the move be approved by the latter organization, it was announced by international governing body FIDE on Wednesday. The decision followed a request by the Chess Federation of Russia (CFR).

The Asian Chess Federation (ACF) is now expected to decide on Russia’s request at its General Assembly, which will be held in Abu Dhabi on February 28. A Russian delegation at the gathering will be led by the head of the CFR, Andrey Filatov, national media reported.

If the ACF does accept Russia, FIDE explained that the country would automatically withdraw from the ECU, adding that a chess federation cannot be part of two continental bodies at the same time. FIDE also decided that Russia will be redesignated as part of the Asian region starting from May 1, in the event that it is approved for membership by the ACF.

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FIDE determined that Russian chess players who wish to join other federations in light of the potential changes can do so immediately upon request and without incurring any fees. Players can later return to the CFR under the same conditions, it added.

Back in March 2022, FIDE allowed chess players from Russia and Belarus to continue to participate at international tournaments, but only under neutral status.

The ACF currently features 54 national federations, including prominent chess powers such as China, India, and Uzbekistan.

FIDE’s decision comes ahead of a world title contest between Russian grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi and Chinese rival Ding Liren. Nepomniachtchi ranks third in the world, while his opponent lies second. They will face off in a series of games in Astana from April 7 to May 1.

A new world champion will be crowned following the withdrawal of reigning five-time champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who announced last year that he would not be defending his title in 2023.

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