Phil Haigh ✍️
The Gibraltar Open first round has become quite messy after a string of players were forced to withdraw due to their flights being diverted to Spain and encountering visa issues.
There were a number of withdrawals earlier in the week, with the likes of Stephen Maguire, Anthony McGill, Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy all pulling out before leaving the UK, but others have been forced out despite getting on a plane.
Due to bad weather in Gibraltar, some flights were diverted to Malaga and non-UK players were hit hard as they did not have the paperwork to be there.
They were left on the plane and forced to fly back to the UK, missing out on their first round matches.
A WST statement read: ‘Unfortunately due to bad weather in Gibraltar, certain flights from the UK have been diverted to Malaga.
‘Players travelling on non-British passports and without a Schengen Visa do not meet the Spanish visa entry requirements and therefore have had to fly back to the UK and some will not be able to compete in this week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open.
‘This affects a relatively small number of players. Their opponents at the tournament will receive a walkover into the second round and these will be confirmed as and when we know that the player is unable to make their match.
‘WPBSA Players representatives are contacting affected players and assisting with alternative plans where possible.’
The event began on Thursday morning and Chinese quarrtet Pang Junxu, Wu Yize, Li Hang and Xu Si all failed to make it to their matches, handing . Daniel Womersley, Andy Hicks, Luke Pinches and Iulian Boiko walk-overs.
Dave Gilbert was another late withdrawal from the event, with Oliver Lines expecting to take on the Farmer, but finding out on Thursday morning that he had received a bye into the last 64.
Chris Wakelin and Jak Jones were also put through to the second round, with Si Jiahui and Hossein Vafaei pulling out of their games on Thursday afternoon.
There was another late withdrawal, unrelated to the unfortunate weather situation, as Anthony Hamilton dropped out of his first round game with Jimmy White due to a bad back.
When the likes of Maguire and McGill withdrew, days in advance, they were replaced in the draw, but replacements have not been able to be found for later withdrawals.
Also receiving byes into the last 64 are Jamie Jones, Matthew Stevens, Steven Hallworth, Sanderson Lam and Jimmy White after Phil O’Kane, Hamim Hussain, Fraser Patrick, Chang Bingyu and Anthony Hamilton pulled out respectively.
Not all the withdrawals were down to the diverted flights, of course, with some pulling out due to high cost of travel to Gibraltar, with no prize money guaranteed and relatively meagre rewards unless you reach the final.
First round winners pick up £2,000, but reaching the semi-finals only sees a player win £6,000. The winner will get a healthy £50,000 and the runner-up £20,000, but anything less and it can be a trip with little or no reward.
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