Ian Nepomniachtchi will not be able to play next to Russia flag against Carlsen

As Magnus Carlsen prepares for a two-day final with his old rival Hikaru Nakamura, Wada’s ban on Russia has reached chess

Ian Nepomniachtchi’s feat in qualifying as Magnus Carlsen’s official challenger in a €2m, 14-game world title series at Dubai in November was subsequently hit on two fronts. First, having won the Candidates with a round to spare, Nepomniachtchi lost Tuesday’s dead rubber in Ekaterinburg. A more significant blow came on Friday, however, when he learned that he is not allowed to play with the Russian flag beside him in Dubai, owing to his country’s ban imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Following Tuesday’s defeat by China’s Ding Liren, the 30-year-old Muscovite said that he lacked motivation for the game, a strange comment when a win would have raised his Fide world rating close to 2800, the super-elite level, while as it was Ding’s victory regained the No 3 spot in the ratings that he had briefly let slip a few days earlier.

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