OLYMPIC bosses have apologised to the North Korean team after the flag of a rival nation was mistakenly displayed at their first sporting event of the Games.
The North Korean women’s football team staged a protest ahead of their opening match with Columbia after the South Korean flag was wrongly shown on a big screen before kick-off.
As a consequence, the players walked off the pitch and refused to start the match at Hampden Park in Scotland at the scheduled 7.45pm start time.
They were persuaded to return to the field about an hour later when the sides were announced again with each player’s face displayed next to the North Korean flag.
The controversy came as Team GB’s women footballers got off to a winning start by beating New Zealand 1-0 on the first day of competitive action.
A second-half goal by 24-year-old Stephanie Houghton clinched victory for Great Britain in Cardiff and put them on track for a place in the last eight of the 12-team contest.
The men’s football team were to kick off their opening Olympics fixture against Senegal at Old Trafford later tonight.
Following the blunder in Scotland, Games organisers Locog issued a statement apologising for the confusion.
It said: “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.”
South Korea and North Korea exist as neighbours but have a far from harmonious relationship. The countries were formally established as separate entities in 1948, and the Korean War began in 1950.
Only two years ago, North Korean artillery shells killed four people, two from the military and two civilians, on Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea.
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