Special Olympics Athletes Forced To Sleep On A Gym Floor And Fight Over Food

Hundreds of athletes arriving for the Special Olympics received a rather uncomfortable welcome to Los Angeles.

Around 1,500 Special Olympics delegates spent last night sleeping on a gym floor at Loyola Marymount University, after delayed flights and buses left them stranded. The athletes had traveled from Norway, Mexico, Venezuela, Kenya and the Cayman Islands. Esmeralda Brockhurst, a delegation liaison for Portugal, tells ABC7, "They were sleeping on the floor, they were sleeping on cardboard boxes, things like that."

The Red Cross was called in late last night and provided the athletes with 1,200 blankets, 3,000 bottles of water and snacks. Before that, the became situation a bit chaotic, as one member of the British delegation told KNX 1070, “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 exact causes of the logistical mess has not yet been released, though they have been attributed to delays at LAX. Special Olympics spokesman Rich Perelman, explains, “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.”


Eventually the athletes were able to get to their host cities Wednesday morning, though, not without a confusing welcome to Los Angeles. Barry Dulson, a head coach for Isle of Man, explains, "It was a bit tough on some of the athletes who didn't really understand the situation."

Over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries are arriving in Los Angeles this week to compete in the Special Olympics. Opening ceremonies will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this Saturday, and athletes will then be competing in 25 different sports at venues throughout Los Angeles, including USC and UCLA.