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Indian team that won FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2020 struggles through custom department procedure to get their medals

A Finance Ministry notification dated June 30, 2017 had exempted medals, cups and trophies won by Indian sports team members for participating in international tournaments from custom duties

A team of 12 members that won India’s first ever gold medal in the FIDE (International Chess Federation) Online Chess Olympiad, 2020 that was held in August had to go through unnecessary hardship to finally get their hard-earned medals. The medals that were sent from Russia to India within three days, took a week’s time to finally reach the team members as they needed to clear the customs.

Srinath Narayanan, the Vice President of the Indian chess team, shared a picture of himself with his gold medal and certificate. Thanking FIDE Narayanan said that it was not easy to get the medals as it took a week’s time for the medals to reach from Bangalore to Chennai. Narayanan said that he even had to pay customs duty to get the medals. Narayanan said that he would dispatch the medals to the rest of the team.

Narayanan later tweeted to inform that medals had reached the more than half of the team members. He said that the DHL Express, the courier, parcel and mail service company, apologised for the inconvenience caused in the delivery of the medals. He said that a representative from the Sports Ministry promised to support them.

According to Mint, one of the team members named Harikrishna who lives in Prague received his medal on November 21 before rest of the team. The medals of the rest of the team member reached Bangalore on November 23. Narayanan said that he had to provide multiple documents to customs officials to collect the medals of the team. “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”, Narayanan said. Narayanan had to pay a customs duty of Rs 6,300 finally get the medals. “I was so tired of all this, I just paid it”, he said.

It may be noted that a Finance Ministry notification dated June 30, 2017 had exempted medals, cups and trophies won by Indian sports team members for participating in international tournaments from custom duties. Therefore, collecting customs duty for the medals won by the Indian chess is a clear violation of government rules.

Chief Commissioner of customs at Bengaluru, AK Jyotishi, assured to look into the incident. “The rule might have been applied without any deviation. If it is so, that benefit will be extended without any problem. We’re proud that somebody has represented India and brought laurels”, Jyotishi told Mint.

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