In a statement to Chess.com, Vachier-Lagrave’s manager Laurent Verat said:
“Of course, Maxime is very happy to— at last—play this Candidates Tournament that he missed so narrowly on previous occasions. I know he would have preferred to qualify in the ‘normal’ way but that’s the way it is. And he certainly takes it now in the same way as he had already taken the fact to miss the Candidates. Since Gibraltar, he played one Bundesliga game but only took a few days vacation abroad.
“I didn’t speak with him about Radjabov’s decision to withdraw, but the fact is that he must focus on his chess preparation, while there are still plenty of issues pending. Travel, visa, coronavirus, the team, everything has to be settled as quickly as possible since the overall situation is quite tricky. What I can tell you is that he should arrive early in Yekaterinburg….”
Radjabov had qualified for the Candidates by winning the 2019 FIDE World Cup. Originally FIDE had mentioned in its press release that Radjabov had cited “personal reasons” for his withdrawal. However, on Instagram the Azerbaijani grandmaster denied this:
“Dear compatriots, chess fans, the entire chess community, colleagues and friends. It is not correct, I have no personal reasons to withdraw from the tournament. I will come up very soon with the statement and with letters that were sent to FIDE and their answers.” (Read more). Photo and news: chess.com