Chess: Team Uganda fights for shelter in Zambia

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The national chess team has denounced unfair treatment over room allocation at the convention hotel in Lusaka, Zambia, where they are staying ahead of the African Youth Chess Championships, which begin on Sunday.

Uganda sent a 22-strong team that arrived in Zambia today for the continental event, which was scheduled to take place July 3-10 at the Mika Convention Center in the capital, Lusaka.

However, upon arrival, Team Uganda asked the Zambian Chess Federation organizers to provide them with at least four rooms, to which only one was allocated.

The Secretary General of the Ugandan Chess Federation (UCF) expressed his dissatisfaction in a written statement to the President of the Chess Federation of Zambia (CFZ).

“We have been informed by the Uganda Chess Team in Zambia that there has been grossly unfair treatment regarding room allocation at the official venue – the Mika Convention Centre. The Uganda Chess Federation has also been informed by our team in Zambia that the rooms at the Mika Convention Center have been reserved/fenced off for participants from South Africa and Egypt, among others,” the statement reads in part.

It adds: “To make matters worse, the teams for which the spaces were fenced off have not even arrived in Zambia. Please note that some of our players arrived yesterday but they were bundled up and taken to a remote location where they spent the night. Little did we know that this was already a planned strategy by the Zambia Chess Federation to keep our team away from the official venue – the Mika Convention Centre. Please note that this unfair treatment will affect Team Uganda’s performance and will be very unhappy.”

The statement further notes that the event invitation did not indicate that the Mika Convention Center was intended for a specific category of attendees.

“No team should be seen as inferior or more important than the other. What we are seeing in Zambia is sending mixed signals pointing to a clear split. We have yet to determine what the intent of this unfair move by the Chess Federation of Zambia might be,” the secretary explained.

The statement also states that Team Uganda is fully paid per event requirements and proof of payment was submitted to CFZ yesterday, July 1, 2022.

“The Uganda Chess Federation is therefore protesting this injustice in the strongest possible terms and is demanding that the rooms be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Chess is a game that should bring people together and create unity and friendship, not division, between our peoples. We trust that the Chess Federation of Zambia cares about our concerns and will address it quickly, taking into account the principles of justice, fairness and transparency.”

Team Uganda was signed off this week by Deputy Secretary General of the National Council of Sports, David Katende.

Speaking to ChimpReports, Ojok confirmed that one room has been reserved for 2 and the other 20 will go to other outlying hotels, which he says is unfair treatment.

The official venue is reported to have 80 rooms, all reserved for only 2 teams from South Africa and Egypt.

“Normally, a hotel is not enough for such events. Therefore, in case of overflow, the rest will be accommodated in other nearby hotels, but the organizers have arranged shuttles running between the different hotels at regular intervals, maybe every 1 hour there is a shuttle,” Ojok told this website.

“This is the practice for international chess tournaments worldwide. It’s fine for us to use multiple hotels, but we only needed 4 rooms in the main hotel, especially for the young players,” he said.

The winners of each age group category in both the Open and Girls sections will be awarded the personal right to compete in the 2023 World Youth Chess Championships and the 2023 World Cadet Championships.

In addition, winners in each age group category will also be awarded conditional FIDE titles as follows (for combined age groups, titles will still be awarded to age group winners provided the player scores at least 50% and at least five players from 3 different federations per age group) .

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