Report from on the ground at the Olympiad by Kevin Bonham

Went to the venue yesterday. The extent to which the city is celebrating chess with placards, ads, murals etc is really impressive especially considering the Olympiad was moved at short notice.

I could have got access to the inner part of the playing halls as a delegate but decided not to and just went to the spectator areas instead. There have been comments in the local press about spectator prices being high and as spectator experiences go the top hall is a bit basic with limited access and standing room only. Hall 2 is better with numerous stands around the edges but they are separate from each other so if you want to watch a lot of matches you have to go through a lot of doors. I guess no one much does that in hall 2. For hall 1 spectators have to cloak bags, cameras and phones and put watches in their pockets but it is nothing like the insane levels of security in Baku. In hall 2 the security was pretty lax with no screening and anyone willing to lie would be able to get a phone into the grandstands. The playing area for the players looked pretty good. I was able to see AUS women’s match well as they had an edge table in hall 2. Norway was playing Zambia near the back of hall 1 and there were a lot of local spectators watching Magnus from afar.

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