FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich was Russia's Deputy Prime Minister between 2012 and 2018, working alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin ©Getty Images

Russia’s International Chess Federation (FIDE) President Arkady Dvorkovich admits it is now "impossible" to keep sport away from politics after agreeing to accept what he considers to be a "demand" from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the invasion of Ukraine.

Chennai in India has been chosen to replace Moscow as the host of this year’s World Chess Olympiad after the FIDE suspended all tournaments from taking place in Russia.

As well as not allowing events to be staged in Russia and Belarus, the FIDE has temporarily banned Russian and Belarusian teams from competing at events but is allowing participants from the two nations to play in individual tournaments as neutrals.

Speaking to Russia’s official state news agency TASS, Dvorkovich, who served as Russia's Deputy Prime Minister from 2012 to 2018, said the decisions were made to protect the rights of Russian players.

"We have reached such a balance, although for me personally the principle 'sport is out of politics' is obligatory," said Dvorkovich.

"But now it is impossible to completely get away from politics, so now we are forced to make decisions that allow us to minimise the damage to chess players."

Dvorkovich told TASS that FIDE had faced pressure from the IOC, various Governments and the chess community to impose restrictions on Russia and Belarus.

"The IOC recommendation sounds unambiguous - despite the word 'recommendation', it actually has the character of a demand," said Dvorkovich.

"Although the positions differ, there are common features and principles, primarily towards the complete exclusion of Russia from the chess map of the world in the current conditions.

"My task as FIDE President [is] to protect the rights of chess players of all countries: they must have the right to play, this is their profession, and the FIDE statute states that this right should not be connected in any way with nationality, religion and political views and other similar factors."

This year's World Chess Olympiad is set to be staged in Chennai after being moved away from Moscow ©Getty Images
This year's World Chess Olympiad is set to be staged in Chennai after being moved away from Moscow ©Getty Images

Dvorkovich admitted he found the situation "difficult" due to his "conflict of interest" but added: "I am a Russian citizen, I am proud of it, while my role as FIDE President is to unite the chess community and find solutions that will protect everyone without violating rights."

The FIDE Council has agreed to allow players from either Russia and Belarus to compete under the organisation’s flag until May 31 this year.

Should they wish to continue to play as neutrals, they will need to submit a new request after May 1, according to FIDE.

"I am glad that we found an understanding among the vast majority of our colleagues that Russian and Belarusian chess players will be able to continue playing at FIDE tournaments under its flag, that we have provided an easy temporary transition so that chess players can play at the next tournaments," said Dvorkovich.

"It should be noted that the decision of FIDE contains a clause "until a different decision is made.

"FIDE will continue to monitor the situation and, if there are prerequisites, will further discuss this issue."

The FIDE Council has also agreed to move the World Chess Olympiad to Chennai, with the event due to be held "between the end of July and the beginning of August".

Chennai previously hosted the 2013 World Championship, where Norway’s Magnus Carlsen was first crowned grandmaster.