International Chess Federation (FIDE) President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov will miss the World Chess Championship in New York City after he failed with his attempt to be allowed into the United States.
The event is due to begin tomorrow and concludes on November 30 but Ilyumzhinov will not be able to watch the contest between Norway's reigning champion Magnus Carlsen and Russian challenger Sergey Karyakin at the Seaport District.
It marks the first time the President of the worldwide governing body has not been present at the event.
The FIDE head was added to a sanctions list by the US Department of Treasury last November, which put his attendance at the event in serious doubt.
US officials claimed he had been "materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria".
Ilyumzhinov denied the allegations against him and insisted his only dealings with the war-torn country were part of his duties as FIDE President, even offering to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence.
The Russian has been unable to overturn his name appearing on the sanctions list and will, therefore, miss a competition he plays a role in organising.
Last December, Ilyumzhinov opted to withdraw from the legal, financial and business operations of FIDE until his name was removed from the sanctions list.
"The match is going to be interesting," Ilyumzhinov told Russia's official news agency TASS.
"It is the first time in FIDE’s history that its President is going to be absent from the opening match for the world chess crown and the drawing of lots ceremony."
The confirmation of his absence has been strongly criticised by Russian Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who described the decision as "grotesque" and claimed it would sour relations between the two nations.
She believes the visa row demonstrates how sport is not above political interference.
"Needless to say, these grounds are grotesque and do not stand any criticism," she said.
"But for the incumbent US authorities, who have been carried away with imposing sanctions on Russia and its citizens, any pretext is good.
"After a heavy damage had been inflicted on the Russian-US relations, the White House is again refusing to observe the ‘sport is above politics’ universal principle."
Zakharova criticised the outgoing US administration, including President Barack Obama, who will be succeeded by Donald Trump in January, for the debacle.
"As a result, the FIDE President will be unable to be present at the World Chess Championship match in New York, which he himself has organised, for the first time in 92 years," she said.
"It is not doing credit to the outgoing US administration."