Organizers of an international chess tournament in Corsica said on Tuesday they had expelled Iranian Grandmaster Ehsan Ghaem Maghami for refusing to take on an Israeli player.
Scheduled to face Ehud Sachar in the fourth round of the Corsica Masters in the French island’s city of Bastia, Maghami told organizers he would not play the Israeli for political reasons.
The tournament’s organizer and head of the Corsican Chess League, Leo Battesti, said there had then been no choice but to expel Maghami.
“Politics has no place in competition at this level. I was forced to expel Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, who unfortunately refused to change his mind. I had no other choice,” he said.
More than 800 players from 30 countries gathered in Corsica for the tournament, including about 40 Grandmasters and International Masters, including the current World Chess Champion, India’s Viswanathan Anand.
The fourth round continues until Saturday.
In February, Maghami beat Israeli title holder Alik Gershon to take the Guinness record for simultaneous chess games after facing more than 600 players for over 25 hours.
Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, with Tehran refusing to recognize the existence of the Jewish state and calling regularly for its destruction.