The Ministry of Culture said they cannot respond to a request by the Estonian Chess Association to support Chess Olympiad winner Jaan Ehlvest by giving him a pension for winners of Olympic sports.
The ministry said they cannot respond to the chess union's request to pay state support to chess player Jaan Ehlvest as chess is not a sport which takes place during the Olympic or Paralympic Games.
Ministry of Culture communications adviser Hannus Luure told ER the Sports Act (§ 12 (1)) stipulates that state support for an Olympic winner is awarded to a person who is an Estonian citizen and has achieved success in the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games.
"As a result, the Ministry of Culture does not have the discretion to add athletes to the list of Olympic Winner National Grants. Olympic Winner National Grants will only be paid to those in the Olympic Sport or Paralympic Sports program," Luure said.
Luure added that although chess has a long and glorious history in Estonia, and Jaan Ehlvest's results are remarkable, today chess is not part of the Olympic or Paralympic Games as organized by the International Olympic Committee and therefore Jaan Ehlvest is not eligible for an Olympic winners pension.
"The fact that a sport uses the word "Olympia" in the name of its event does not justify calling it a match with the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games," he said.
ERR reported on Tuesday that the Estonian Chess Association wants the state to pay the Olympic winner's pension to chess player Jaan Ehlvest, which will amount to €1,397 per month in 2020.
In 1988, Ehlvest became the first relay player in the Soviet Union national team to win the Chess Olympiad. The team at that time was impressive and featured Garri Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Artur Yussupov, Alexander Beljavsky, Jaan Ehlvest and Vasily Ivanchuk.
"Jaan Ehlvest became the Olympic team winner of the Thessaloniki Chess Olympiad as a member of the Soviet Union in 1988. Jaan Ehlvest's other merits and results will not be recounted here. Would it be possible to integrate Jaan Ehlvest's existing Olympic winners' pension system with the Chess Olympiad results?" Margus Sööt, Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Chess Association, wrote in a letter sent to the Minister of Culture.
Editor: Helen Wright