x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Olympics: Flag blunder delays game as organisers forced to apologise to North Korea

Kick-off in the women's football match between North Korea and Colombia was delayed by more than an hour after organisers used the South Korean flag by mistake.

Kim Chung-Sim leads the North Korean women's football team out at Hampden Park following the organiser's embarrassing blunder that saw the South Korean flag displayed
Kim Chung-Sim leads the North Korean women's football team out at Hampden Park following the organiser's embarrassing blunder that saw the South Korean flag displayed

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GLASGOW, UK // Olympic Games organisers were left embarrassed last night as London 2012 got under way with a major flag blunder which led to North Korea walking off before their women's football match.

LOCOG, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, were forced to apologise to the North Korean footballers at Glasgow's Hampden Park who saw their faces shown on big screens alongside South Korean flags.

It was a mistake that prompted North Korea to stage a protest, causing the kick-off against Colombia to be delayed by one hour and five minutes.

As the North Korean players warmed up on the pitch before the scheduled 7.45pm start time, they noticed the incorrect flag was being shown.

The squad walked off and could only be persuaded to return when the teams were announced again with each player's face displayed next to the North Korean flag.

A statement from LOCOG said: "Today ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag.

"Clearly this is a mistake, we will apologise to the team and the national Olympic committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."

The Group G match eventually began at 8.50pm, with only a scattering of supporters inside the 52,000-capacity stadium which had earlier staged the 4-2 victory by the USA over France.

North Korea went on to win the match 2-0, thanks to a brace from Song Hui Kim, but coach Gun Sin Ui said the result did not compensate for the flag mix-up.

Ui said: "Before the match when warming up the announcement from the stadium introduced each of our players.

"Our players were announced with their photos and names alongside the South Korean national flag. The national flag difference is a big problem.

"Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly. Unfortunately it took some time later for the broadcast to be done again properly and we made the decision to go on with the match."

Ui went on to stress the importance of the offence caused by showing the images alongside the South Korean flag and even went on to imply that foul play could have been involved.

Asked whether he believed the wrong flag had deliberately been used, he said: "That was the question I was going to ask LOCOG and Fifa.

"We were angry because our players were shown as if they were from South Korea which affects us very greatly.

"Our players cannot be shown especially with other flags, especially the South Korean one.

"If this matter had not been solved, continuing would have been a nonsense."