LONDON // Olympic organisers have apologised after a mix-up over North Korea's flag prompted its women's football team to walk off the pitch in an embarrassing start to the London Games.
The North Korean squad were pictured next to the national flag of South Korea — with whom the North are officially still at war — at their opening match against Colombia yesterday at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland.
The North Koreans walked off but were persuaded to return to the pitch an hour later when the teams were announced again with each player's face shown next to the correct flag.
"We made a mistake, it is as simple as that," Paul Deighton, chief executive of games organisers LOCOG, said on BBC radio.
"We have apologised and we are taking steps to make sure that absolutely can't happen again.
"It was simple human error, that is why we have apologised. I can assure you that it is not going to happen again."
North Korea went on to win the match 2-0.
But the team's coach Sin Ui-gun said: "Winning the game cannot compensate this. It is a different matter. We hope there is no repeat in the next matches."
Tension between North and South Korea remains high, particularly after the North's failed rocket launch in April, seen by the United States and its allies as an attempted ballistic missile test.
The flag mix-up was one of a series of blunders yesterday, with Team GB sending out an email referring to the Great Britain women's football team as "England".
Organisers also had to offer a refund to diving fans whose view will be partially obscured due to a defect in the purpose-built, wave-shaped Aquatics Centre.
The £27 million (Dh153.5m) opening ceremony will officially kick off the Olympics tomorrow night.