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Return of Singapore teen who made waves in powerlifting delayed due to 'visa mix-ups'

A crowdfunding campaign was launched to help raise funds for Matthew and Marcus Yap so they can rebook their flights home, according to Powerlifting Singapore.

Singaporean teen powerlifter Matthew Yap. (Photo: YouTube screengrab)

SINGAPORE: The Republic Polytechnic student who made waves in the powerlifting arena after setting a new squat world record in the under-66kg sub-junior category over the weekend is currently laid over in Minsk, Belarus, due to “some visa mix-ups”.

Matthew Yap, together with his brother and coach Marcus Yap, missed their flight back to Singapore as a result and had to rebook their flights, according to Powerlifting Singapore’s Facebook post at 1.02am on Thursday.

It also set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed for the two brothers to get the air tickets needed to fly home. In the post on GIVE.Asia, Daphne Loo, the media officer for Powerlifting Singapore, said Matthew and Marcus were told they did not need to apply for visas on arrival but officials there demanded they pay a US$ 600 fine when they tried to leave the country. 

Both of them flew into Belarus for the World Classic Powerlifting Championships.

“They were detained, questioned and it was a very traumatic experience,” according to the post on the crowdfunding platform, which added that the officials waived the fine after realising the Yap brothers “had no money” and “asked them to get their own air tickets home”. 

When they checked with their airline, Lufthansa, they found out that it would cost €949 (S$ 1,470) each to do so. “Having worked 10-hour shifts at a Korean eatery and saving their allowances just to be able to make this trip to Belarus to compete, there was no way they could afford this. They had already spent S$ 5,500 for this chance to win the world record,” according to the post.

This amount was eventually reduced to €603 for both of them to rebook their flights to Frankfurt, Germany, then back to Singapore, the GIVE.Asia post added. 

When Channel NewsAsia visited the page, it showed that the campaign had raised S$ 2,325.

Powerlifting Singapore said in an update at 2.10am that the fundraising goal was reached and it will provide more details soon. 

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