Indian Chess Olympiad Gold winners humiliated by airport Customs
First Published Dec 4, 2020, 1:17 PM IST
Team India won the gold medal during the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad. It was organised by the International Chess Federation, as the winning members received the medals via courier. Nonetheless, the airport Customs department charged the customs duty from the winners.
In what could be considered as an utter humiliation for a gold medal-winning Team India contingent from the Chess Olympiad, they were asked to pay the customs duty for the gold medal by the Customs department. The tournament was held online, as the medals were couriered from Russia, by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
It was in August when Team India had won the tournament, as the sports fraternity across the nation congratulated them. Furthermore, India did it without any support from the Indian Chess Federation, as they were even commended by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who had tweeted, by admiring their “hard work and dedication”.
According to a report by Mint, it was on December 2 when the medal finally arrived from Russia. “It reached from Russia to India in three days, but took more than a week to reach from Bangalore to Chennai, and had to pay customs duty!” said a winning member of the team and vice-captain, Srinath Narayanan.
“It was dispatched around the 19th or 20th [November]. Harikrishna (a team member) got his medal on the 21st. He lives in Prague and got it hassle-free. For us, it came to Bangalore on the 23rd. Then, it took a whole week,” Narayanan added.
“They (customs officials) had opened up the package and asked me what was inside, and what it was made of. I had to give them an official document on the chemical composition. I was so tired of all this, I just paid it. It doesn’t even contain gold or silver. They use different metals to achieve this colour,” concluded Narayanan.
Although Narayanan paid the duty charge, he was never supposed to. According to a notification issued by the central government on June 30, 2017, customs duties are exempted for medals and trophies, won by Indian sports personnel, who have participated in international tournaments.
Furthermore, this wasn’t the first time such an incident had occured. Former world champion and Grand Master, Viswanathan Anand had revealed a similar incident with him in 1987. “I was allowed to bring the computer home, after some timely intervention by Manuel Aaron, who spoke to the Customs officials and also wrote critically about the incident in a national daily,” he had written in his autobiography, Mind Master.
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