The brightest and most promising players from the country were primed to engage in fierce competition against the finest of Asia at the 7th Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championship in Hainan, China’s island province.

Armed with official invitations from Hainan’s chess organizers, these players had undergone weeks of rigorous training in preparation for the tournament. They had secured their tickets and meticulously organized their accommodations in Hainan. They even anticipated relishing the delectable and renowned Hainanese chicken dish.

All was in place for their scheduled departure to Hainan on August 3, except for a single obstacle: they lacked Chinese visas.

The event’s invitation explicitly stated that Hainan had extended visa-free entry to 59 countries, including the Philippines.

Indeed, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reinstated Hainan’s visa-free policy for travelers holding passports from these 59 exempted nations, starting March 15, 2023. This allowed these travelers a 30-day exploration of the province, encompassing its picturesque beaches reminiscent of Hawaii.

The organizing committee for the tournament had also made arrangements for the transportation of foreign participants from the Hainan airport to their designated hotels upon arrival.

However, the plane tickets purchased by the Philippine delegation necessitated a layover in Guangzhou, China. Regrettably, this layover required an entry visa.

As a result, the Filipino players, coaches, parents, and guardians who were bound for Hainan were denied their boarding passes on Thursday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.