The FIDE Candidates Tournament has been halted due to coronavirus ©FIDE

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) have confirmed the Candidates Tournament has been stopped with immediate effect after Russia announced it would halt air travel with other countries tomorrow.

A statement confirmed the tournament could not continue without guarantees that players and officials would be able to return home after the event.

Competition will resume at a later date, the FIDE added.

Exactly half of the 14 rounds had been completed in Yekaterinburg.

"FIDE cannot continue the tournament without guarantees for the players' and officials' safe and timely return home," said Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President.

"In this situation and on the basis of clause 1.5. Rules of Candidates Tournament, the FIDE President decided to stop the tournament.

"It will be continued later, with the exact dates to be announced as soon as the global situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic will allow.

"As it was stipulated by the special rules agreed with the players before the start of the event, the results of the seven rounds played remain valid, and the tournament will be resumed in the same composition starting with the games of the eighth round.

"FIDE is grateful to the players, officials, volunteers and the entire team of organisers, including the Chess Federation of Russia and the main partner of the tournament - SIMA-Land."

The tournament has been halted at the halfway stage ©FIDE
The tournament has been halted at the halfway stage ©FIDE

The tournament had been one of few sporting events taking place worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the postponement and cancellation of numerous competitions.

The event is halted with France's Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi top of the standings on 4.5 points.

The United States' Fabiano Caruana, The Netherlands' Anish Giri, China's Wang Hao and Russia's Alexander Grischuk occupy third place to sixth place, respectively, on 3.5 points.

China's Ding Liren and Russia's Kirill Alekseenko complete the top eight on 2.5 points.