Africa’s latest chess Grandmaster to miss out on World Cup 2021!

GM Amir Zaibi (2396), Africa’s latest chess Grandmaster, will not partake in the chess World Cup 2021 as scheduled, due to a failed Covid-19 PCR test!

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus, if you are infected at the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of virus even after you are no longer infected.

Amir Zaibi after winning the Arab Championship 2019

A PCR test for COVID-19 is used to diagnose people who are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The PCR test is the “gold standard” test for diagnosing COVID-19 because it is the current, most accurate, and reliable test in the world. It is therefore a barrier of entry into participation at the World Cup 2021.

A clearly dejected and distraught Zaibi shared the calamitous news on his social platforms:

نتيجة تحليل PCR إيجابية تحرمني من المشاركة في بطولة العالم للشطرنج … أعتذر من جميع الشطرنجين كما أعتذر من الجامعة التونسية للشطرنج التي لم تدخر جهدا أو مالا لتمكيني من المشاركة في أحسن الظروف.

A positive PCR test result prevents me from participating in the World Chess Championship… I apologize to all chess players and I apologize to the Tunisian Chess University that did not spare any effort or money to enable me participate in the best conditions.

~GM Amir Zaibi,

GM Amir Zaibi ironically was officially awarded his Grandmaster title in the pandemic infested year of 2020, after winning the Arab Championship in 2019. He is the 3rd Tunisian chess player to accomplish this milestone, following in the footsteps of GM Slim Bouaziz in 1993 and GM Slim Belkhodja in 2002.

It is a devastating blow to the African chess contingent for the FIDE World Cup which starts this coming weekend on July 10th, 2021. Africa was banking on the young GM who was billed to take on the Romanian talent Bogdan-Daniel Deac in the first round. It was hoped that he would use his experience since he has played at a World Cup before in 2015 and got knocked out by GM Fabiano Caruana in the first round.

Amir Zaibi vs Caruana during World Cup 2015

The Tunisian Federation President responded to our questions to verify with the following statement:

I am sorry to inform you that GM Amir Zaibi tested positive for Covid-19 when he did a PCR test before travelling to Sochi. That is why he can’t participate at the chess World Cup, despite all the accommodations an authorizations we arranged for his mission. Also we are unable to nominate another person due to administrative reasons and we don’t have enough time to book hotel and travel ticket and also to get administrative authorization.

~Tunisian Chess Fedaration President, Mr Nejeh Sayah

Dr Bassem Amin, Africa’s number 1 and arguably best ever player the continent has ever produced, wished the player a speedy recovery.

ألف سلامة عليك يا صديقى سلامتك أهم حاجة ربنا يتم شفاك على خير 🙏🏻

~GM Bassem Amin

World Chess body FIDE is yet to comment.

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