LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Athletes and coaches in town for the Special Olympics faced some travel hiccups upon their arrival Wednesday.
Flights and buses arrived late for at least 1,500 athletes and coaches out of the 7,200 delegates that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday night, which lead to backups at the delegation welcome center at at Loyola Marymount University’s Gersten Pavilion, according to Special Olympics spokesman Rich Perelman.
“So with all the delays and the different things that were going on, we ended up having some long delays, folks were taking a long time to get through this process, a long time to get through LAX process,” said Perelman.
Delegates arriving from as far as Portugal and Bahrain were taken to LMU this morning in buses. Some were seen sleeping at LMU’s Fritz Burns Recreation Center.
Luis Mancera, a swimming coach with the Mexican National team, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO his delegation was still waiting after being told they would be leaving Tuesday night.
“Sleeping on the floor, with just barely food, with all the people…from Mexico,” said Mancera. “That’s not something we did expect.”
One man from the British delegation told KNX 1070 he witnessed a chaotic scene inside the facility.
“It’s a bit like carnage in there, nobody really knows what’s going on,” he said. “Fighting over food, it’s a terrible situation.”
The backlog appeared to be easing by mid-morning Wednesday as athletes and coaches were processed at the LMU site before heading out to three days of host towns, Perelman said.
“Everyone was very happy when breakfast arrived at 6:30 a.m.,” he said. “That was the highlight.”
American Red Cross personnel were on scene assisting with the effort, but athletes and coaches said there wasn’t enough food or water to go around.
Still, some managed to make the most of the situation after a long night.
“We are from Iceland, we like to have fun,” Icelandic head of delegation Anna Vilhjalmsd said.
The games will be held starting Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in various venues through Aug. 2.