Budapest has just been selected to host the world Chess Olympiad in 2024, a century after the first tournament was held in Paris. Matches will take place at the Hungexpo centre, to be revamped and expanded in 2021. Although Hungary has a proud tradition in the sport, winning three of the previous 43 Olympiads and standing fourth of the overall medal table, the country has never staged the event. Home of the famous Polgár sisters and former world champion Bobby Fischer in the 1990s, Budapest follows Moscow, Minsk and Baku as a host venue.
Budapest’s expanded Hungexpo centre will stage the 46th Chess Olympiad over two weeks in September 2024, as just announced by the world’s governing body for the sport, FIDE, in Switzerland.
The news follows the recent increase in the popularity of chess, the subject of the smash hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. Record numbers are doing battle over virtual chessboards during lockdown.
Although not attached to the Olympics as its name would suggest, the first event was created as an offshoot of the Paris Games of 1924. The first official Chess Olympiad came three years later, at the Westminster Central Hall in London and was won by Hungary.
While the USSR and Russia have dominated this biennial event, Hungary has always proven to be worthy opponents, finishing second as recently as 2014. The 2024 Olympiad will be one of innovation, with real-time visual broadcasts, holograms and special chessboards for the visually impaired.
The event will be run with a policy of ‘No Paper, No Plastic’. Competitors will stay at three or four hotels within easy reach of the Hungexpo centre near Kincsem Park in District X, east Pest. The Hungarian government has pledged to underwrite the tournament to the tune of €16,647,000.