FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich signalled that Teymour Rajabov, the Azeri Grandmaster who pulled out of the Candidates citing the COVID epidemic before the whole tournament had to be stopped because of the COVID epidemic, will receive a wild card for the 2022 Candidates. The decision that has not officially been announced should end one of the most confusing episodes in the recent history of chess.
Rajabov, who earned the ticket to the 2020 Candidates by winning the World Cup back in 2019, called on FIDE to postpone the event due to the imminent Coronavirus outbreak. FIDE responded by issuing a ‘play or walk away’ ultimatum and effectively forcing Rajabov to withdraw. Two weeks later FIDE had to cancel the event after seven rounds due to the virus outbreak.
Rajabov, however, was replaced by the French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, which made reinstating the Azeri player impossible without starting the Candidates anew — a huge image blow to the organizers and possible lawsuits by the players who actually participated in the Candidates amid the outbreak.
Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik suggested granting Rajabov a wild card to the 2022 Candidates, and the Azeri player, who recently enlisted support of the powerful Azari Chess Federation and enjoyed massive online support campaign titled #JustiveforRajabov seems happy with the decision.