LONDON - The Associated Press
US sailing team members arrive at the Heathrow Airport for the Olympic Games. AP Photo
Europe’s largest airport was welcoming a record number of passengers yesterday as athletes, officials and media from all over the world began arriving for the London Olympics.
Heathrow says athletes from 50 nations will arrive in what it is describing as Britain’s biggest peacetime transport challenge. Some 236,955 passengers are expected to pass through the airport. The previous record of 233,562 was set in July 2011.
Heathrow has enlisted some 1,000 volunteers to meet and greet athletes, officials and media - hoping to put a bright face on the games. Special teams have been created to deal with oversize items such as javelins and bikes. Hundreds of immigration agents will be on the job to ease the long lines that have plagued the airport.
Rows of Olympic VIP buses will be waiting to whisk teams and coaches to the Athletes Village. Baggage teams in reclamation halls are dealing with larger items such as javelins and bikes.
The airport usually handles 100,000 to 110,000 arrivals a day, but that will swell to 120,000 on Monday, many of them Olympic VIPs. Another big arrival day will be July 25, two days before the games’ opening ceremony.
There was also an increased police presence, including sniffer dogs, along with the volunteers and the regular Heathrow staff.
No unusual problems were reported early yesterday, as athletes including the American
sailing team, a Jamaican swimmer and an Italian kayaker were among the early arrivals.