Watch: Israel's Judo team may miss Maccabiah Games after El Al flight delays

An El Al flight to Israel has been stuck and delayed in Barcelona for over a day following a technical malfunction. Awaiting take off are dozens of Israelis, including the Israeli Judo team competing in the Maccabiah Games that officially opened yesterday (Thursday) and whose participation may be forfeited.
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Dozens of Israelis, including the Israeli judo team on their way to Israel for the Maccabiah, have been stuck at the Barcelona airport since Thursday ​​after their flight was repeatedly delayed due to a technical malfunction. The athletes have been waiting for hours without rest and their participation in the Maccabiah games which opened yesterday is questionable.

"What's happening at the airport in Barcelona may be an El Al flight but is related to a Spanish chartered plane," Chairman of the Israel Judo Association Moshe Ponte told Channel 2 News Online. "It's disrespectful to the passengers in general and the Israeli Judo team in particular. The team had to be in Israel yesterday (Thursday) afternoon in order to begin preparing for Sunday's competition in the Maccabiah."

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Israeli Judokas asleep in the Barcelona airport Photo Credit: Oren Smadja/Channel 2 News

The Association’s chairman claimed that the situation the athletes have been placed in for the past hours is unacceptable. "It's simply a disgrace for El Al, but not necessarily because of the problem with the plane," Ponte said. "Technical problems happen, but there is no relation between the malfunction and El Al Airlines’ disgraceful and degrading treatment of its passengers."

Ponte said the athletes arrived at the airport at 11:00 AM Thursday and had to stay in the airport until very late at night, at which point they were told they could be transferred to a hotel. After realizing that the hotel was 1.5 hours away from the airport, they decided to stay and sleep on the floor of the terminal.

“In my capacity as chairman, this is not the first time that I have encountered problems with El-Al,” Ponte explained. "I have to rethink whether we will fly the Israel Judo Association with El Al. I am also reserving the right to open legal proceedings in the future."

El Al stated in response: “Due to a technical malfunction that required flying in a part necessary for fixing the airplane that was meant to take off from Barcelona, the ​passengers were taken to hotels and cared for by the El Al post in Barcelona. The mishap is being handled and the flight is expected to take off to Israel sometime this afternoon. El Al does not compromise on safety, and apologizes for the inconvenience caused to the passengers.”



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