A Nigerian Olympic soccer team stranded in Atlanta will be able to play in the Olympic Games thanks to Delta Air Lines.
The Nigeria U23 Olympic team, who left Atlanta about 8 a.m., is set to arrive in Manaus — north of Rio where the Olympic Games are held — 2 p.m. Thursday.
The men’s team was already delayed because of a payment mix-up between the Nigerian sports ministry and a charter airline when the team booked a flight on a small plane set to leave Wednesday morning, according to the BBC. But players were uncomfortable with the plane’s size.
“The [Nigerian] government stepped in,” team media officer Timi Ebikagboro told BBC Sport. “The players have been assured of adequate medical care on the plane. It’s been challenging but most importantly we will be ready for the first game.”
The team is scheduled to play Japan at 9 p.m. Thursday.
“We are understanding of the seriousness of having the team arrive on time for the match,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Black said the team originally scheduled a charter flight with a different airline.
The team won the Olympic gold 20 years ago in the 1996 Olympic Games and were aiming to recapture that moment, Black said.
The team has played in several fields across Atlanta including the Silverbacks Park in DeKalb County.