Is Chess an Olympic Sport? The Fight For International Recognition

Chess has been around for centuries and has been enjoyed by many players worldwide. But is chess an Olympic sport? Unfortunately, not just yet. But why isn’t it part of the Olympic Games?

In this article, we’ll explore the possibility of chess becoming an official event in the Olympics. We’ll look at what it would take for chess to become an Olympic sport and examine some of the challenges associated with its potential inclusion in the Olympics.

We’ll also examine why some people push for chess to become a part of the Games. Let’s dive in!

Overview of the Olympic Games & Recognition of Chess as a Sport

The Olympic Games are the world’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious international sporting event. It dates back to ancient Greece and was designed to unite people in pursuit of personal excellence and recognition of human creativity.

In modern times, the Games are still based on this core principle to promote peace, friendship, and fair competition through sport.

Some chess players compete in prestigious international tournaments deemed part of the Olympic Games; however, these competitions aren’t officially recognized as an Olympic sport yet.

See also  What Is The Rarest Move In Chess?

History of Chess in the Olympics

Chess has remained a popular game throughout the ages, and it’s still widely enjoyed today by people from all walks of life. But, despite its widespread popularity, it has yet to be accepted as an Olympic event.

The first recorded mention of chess in the Olympics was in 1924 at the 9th Olympiad in Paris, France.

However, it was not officially recognized as part of the Olympic program. It wasn’t until 1994 that FIDE (the World Chess Federation) was granted provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

This allowed FIDE to petition for chess to become a core sport in the Games. So, while we may not have seen a formal competition for chess players at the Olympics, there is still hope for its inclusion in future Games.

International Chess Federation & Their Role in Making Chess an Olympic Sport

You may not know this, but the International Chess Federation (FIDE) is the governing body responsible for making chess an Olympic sport.

FIDE has been playing an essential role in the fight for chess to be included in the Olympics since 1994 when it became a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

FIDE’s Role in Chess and The Olympics

FIDE participates in numerous international activities and events, including working closely with Olympic movement organizations worldwide. FIDE has created many initiatives that help educate people on chess and promote and improve its standard worldwide.

FIDE and its member nations aim to make chess an accepted part of modern culture and have it become a widely enjoyed sport everywhere. This includes getting it accepted as an Olympic sport. And there has been much progress made over the years:

  • Many countries have added chess to their national curriculums.
  • Governments are offering more financial support for projects related to chess.
  • Over 170 countries with national federations now participate in FIDE events.
See also  Smothered Mate: Meaning & Examples

Challenges Standing in the Way of Recognizing Chess as an Olympic Sport

So, what’s the holdup for chess becoming an Olympic sport? Why isn’t it already an Olympic event?

A few challenges are standing in the way of chess becoming an Olympic sport, including:

International Recognition

For a sport to become an official event in the Olympics, it must have international recognition from at least 75 countries across all five continents.

While embraced by numerous countries worldwide, chess has yet to be recognized universally.

Specific Play Rules and Governance

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has specific requirements for governance when it comes to sports in the Olympics.

They want to be sure that organizations offering events can operate harmoniously and without conflict.

Chess is governed by a variety of organizations governing tournament play and regulations, which should be harmonized if one wishes to become part of the Games.

Other Obstacles

Some obstacles still need to be overcome before chess can be included as an Olympic event. For example, some sports organizations still view chess as a game rather than a sport, which means it can’t meet their criteria for inclusion.

Chess games need players to be focused and longer periods compared to regular Olympic games, whose rounds are pretty fast. Some games can last up to a few hours, making it hard to include it in the Olympics.

Additionally, some worry that making chess an Olympic sport would turn it into too much of a commercial enterprise or take away from the game’s roots or traditions.

Nevertheless, FIDE is doing all it can to get everyone on board with making chess an Olympic event, especially now that China has begun.

See also  Top 5 Best Chess Apps for Android (Free to Play)

How Does Chess Stack Up Against Other Olympic Sports?

There’s a lot to consider when comparing chess to other Olympic sports. When we look at other Olympic events like swimming and running, some noticeable physical differences need to be taken into account.

However, despite the lack of physical exertion required in competitive chess, the psychological rigor required is far greater than any ‘athletic’ Olympic sport. It takes a great deal of mental agility and focus to play a game of chess properly.

It takes understanding strategy and tactics combined with years of practice to reach the highest levels in competitive chess. This level of mental acuity is undeniably comparable to many other Olympic sports, such as shooting or archery, which also require immense focus and skill.

Chess is by far the most demanding game in terms of concentration and positioning, often demanding up to an hour from players for each move.


While the debate over whether chess should become an Olympic sport is likely to continue, it is clear that the sport has gained massive worldwide popularity since its inception.

Professionals, amateurs, and casual enthusiasts have found something to love about the game. In addition, the game’s popularity and increasing presence in grassroots competitions have made it an attractive option for potential Olympic inclusion.

While it’s unlikely that chess will be accepted into the Olympics any time soon, it’s a sport that has achieved widespread success and recognition. Whether or not it takes its place among the other sports at the Olympic Games remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: chess is here to stay.