Taking place in the Middle East for the first time, the fourth World Mindsports Championships got underway at the Doha Exhibition & Convention Centre (DECC) Saturday.
Organised by Mindsports Academy and hosted by the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), the nine-day tournament will see more than 1,000 players from 23 different countries compete across the six mindsports, for the crown title of Mindsports World Champion.
The opening ceremony was attended by ambassadors, representatives of the event’s partners, Mindsports champions and contestants.
There was also a speed chess game immediately after the formal inauguration where 20 local talents played against four grandmasters, including 12-year-old Essa.
Previous editions of the Mindsports World Championships were hosted in the Czech Republic, Britain, and France.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, QTA chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim said: “In hosting the tournament, we yet again confirm Qatar’s position as a pioneer in bringing international sporting events to the Arab world.
“Sports and recreation tourism is one of the priority tourism sub-sectors in Qatar, and the country holds about 80 sporting events and world-class competitions annually.”
“The hosting of these championships is a significant step for the development of the sport tourism sub-sector in Qatar,” he said. “Today, we are proud to add cognitive sports to our portfolio. This championship demonstrates the country’s commitment and ability to host sports competitions throughout all seasons of the year.”
“We are particularly delighted that Doha will witness the first time e-sports and Arabic Scrabble are included in the championships, a tradition which we hope will continue at future editions of the international competition,” he added.
According to David Bannon, founder and chief executive of Mindsports International, mindsports are the fastest growing and most highly watched sports internationally.
There are more than 1bn mindsports players around the world, including 600mn chess players and 400mn Go players.
“We are honoured to have the championships here in Doha, and we are proud to be bringing players from all around the world to a country that is very inviting, highly professional and the home of fantastic facilities,” he said. “Bringing mindsports to the Middle East is very important as it matches the fastest growing sports with the fastest growing region in terms of hosting sports competitions.”
QTA’s al-Ibrahim also expressed gratitude to Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) president HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for supporting the expansion of the range of sports events held in Qatar.
QTA had partnered with QOC to cross promote the emerging e-sports scene in Qatar.
In addition to the e-sports competitions taking place at the Mindsports Championships, QOC will be organising a FIFA e-Sports Community event on August 27.
The Mindsports World Championships are also supported by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Aspire Zone Foundation, Ooredoo, Alfardan Automobiles, Adabisc, Strike, and KiddyZone.
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