The short answer to this question is no. There are 40 different sports that are contested as a part of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games every four years. These major events bring competitors from across the globe together to test their skills against the best in the world. The sports that feature in the Olympics are some of the most challenging in the world from a competitive standpoint. Given this fact, many people often wonder whether or not the game of chess is played competitively in the Olympics.
Chess is certainly one of the most challenging competitive games played across the world and would seem to meet that part of the criteria for inclusion in the Olympics. This raises a key question. Is chess an Olympic sport? The following information will work toward answering this question as well as addressing several other key topics that are related to this primary question.
Chess is not a sport that is featured in the Olympic games. There has been a consistent push to have the renowned game of strategy included as one of the many Olympic competitions.
Though many efforts have been made, including failed efforts to get chess into the 2020 Olympics, it currently is not recognized as an official Olympic sport. This is despite the fact that the International Olympic Committee does recognize chess as a sport in the general sense. The main reason cited is the fact that chess does not involve actual athleticism. This has caused there to be much debate as to whether or not chess is a sport or simply a game.
Has Chess Ever Been in the Olympics?
Although Chess is not currently in the olympics, Chess has been included in the Olympics in the past. This seems to fly in the face of the previous claim that chess is not currently included in the Olympics and has never been included. This claim is true from a standpoint of competing for Olympic medals. Chess continues to be excluded from the Olympics in this manner. Chess was however played in exhibition form at the Summer Olympics of 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
The summer Olympics in 2000 features a two-game exhibition match that was played between a pair of Chess Grandmasters of the great Vishy Anand and Alexey Shirov. This is a notable example of the game of chess being put on display at the Olympics. As previously noted, it was purely for exhibition purposes and the competitors were not playing for the possibility of Olympic gold. The Indian and Latvian Chess Grandmasters were simply playing for pride in this notable Olympic exhibition match.
Why Is Chess Not in the Olympics?
The primary argument that seemingly continues to win out in terms of excluding chess from the Olympic games is the fact that many opponents of its inclusion claim that it is not true athletic competition. At face value, this might seem to be an accurate statement. At the same time, chess’s leading organization has a different opinion on the matter.
The International Chess Federation has lobbied to get chess into the Olympics but the prevalent attitude that mind sports are not a part of the Olympics has continued to win out. With this said, it is important to note that chess does have its own Olympic games that are known as the Chess Olympiad.
The biennial international tournament known as the Chess Olympiad brings together teams of chess players representing the various nations of the world. It truly is the Olympic games of the chess community and has been held since 1924. The Chess Olympiad was interrupted in its live format in 2020/2021 due to the health crisis but online events were held in place of the live ones. The Chess Olympiad presents the opportunity for the world’s top players to claim the chess community’s equivalent of Olympic Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Both 2022 and 2024 have been scheduled for the Chess Olympiad’s future. The events will take place in Moscow, Russia, and Budapest, Hungary, respectively.
Is Chess a Sport?
All of these previous topics bring up a simple question. Is chess a sport? The simple answer to this one is yes. Since the 1920s, the International Olympic Committee has classified chess as a sport. This is despite the fact that it is not classified as an Olympic sport. The International Chess Federation, the world’s preeminent governing body for chess, also classifies the game as a sport. In its own official documentation, the International Chess Federation classifies itself as the sport of chess’s sanctioning body on the international level.
The prominent claim used to discredit chess from being considered a sport is the fact that it does not require the use of athleticism. There is a fairly straightforward counterargument to this claim. Though chess does not require what is traditionally thought of as athletic ability, players are put under exertion both mental and physical when they are in the heat of a competetive chess event. There are many top chess pros who credit staying in good physical condition to being a key part of their ability to compete at the highest levels. They claim that it helps them to maintain endurance during long chess tournaments and it helps them to keep their minds sharp as well.
Final Thoughts About Chess in the Olympics and Its Status as a Sport
The reality is that chess is a competetive game that requires tremendous skill and can be physically exerting. There are endless arguments out there as to what constitutes a true sport, but chess certainly seems to possess many of the key markers. This has led to it being classified as a sport by many prominent organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and the International Chess Federation. As for the future, the lobbying to get chess included in the Olympic games will continue. Given this fact, it is still possible that one day, the game of chess will legitimately be classified as an official Olympic sport.