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Indian Chess Olympiad winning team asked to pay custom duty on gold medals

According to a June 30, 2017 notification of Central Government the medals and trophies won by the Indian sports team members are exempt from customs duties.

Chess Olympiad winners

The chess team representing India won their first ever FIDE (International Chess Federation) Online Chess Olympiad in August 2020. The tournament is considered to be one of the most prestigious team events in chess. It was held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India and Russia were announced as joint winners of the same.

The Indian team’s gold-medal winning feat was hailed by everyone. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken to Titter to congratulate the team for the landmark victory.

A server outage resulted in India and Russia sharing the trophy in the FIDE online Chess Olympiad. Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh were initially deemed to have lost their matches on the basis of time running out, after the internet connection faltered. Both Indians were holding good positions in their contests. However, a little while later, the International Chess Federation decreed that the two teams be declared joint winners.

The Chess Olympiad Gold medals were lying at Bengaluru Airport for a week

Srinath Narayanan

According to a June 30, 2017 notification of Central Government, the medals and trophies won by the Indian sports team members are exempt from customs duties.

However, the Chess team vice-captain Srinath Narayanan took to Twitter after 3 months of winning the tournament stating it was now that he had received the medals. He also specified that it was hard getting them home. “The medals are here! Thank you FIDE chess. On the way to dispatch them to the rest of the team now. It wasn’t easy getting it! It reached from Russia to India in three days, but took more than a week to reach from Bangalore to India, and had to pay customs duty!” he said.

In an interview with Mint, Narayanan said that he was made to pay a customs duty of Rs. 6300 to the courier service  DHL Express India Pvt Ltd. “I was so tired of all this, I just paid it,” he said. “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,” he told Mint.

The medals were lying at the Bengaluru airport for a week before being couriered to Chennai. The vice-captain will now send the medals to the other members of the team.

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