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Video, photos: the first controversy of London 2012 Olympics

North Korean team walked off the pitch after being mistakenly introduced alongside the South Korean flag.

North Korean official Son Kwang Ho (second from the right) speaks to other officials during the delay.
North Korean official Son Kwang Ho (second from the right) speaks to other officials during the delay.
Image: EMPICS Sport/EMPICS Sport

ONE OF THE FIRST Olympic events got off to a bad start yesterday after a controversial flag mix-up.

A women’s soccer match between North Korea and Colombia in Glasgow was delayed by an hour after officials accidentally used the South Korean flag to introduce the North Korean team.

Not only have relations between North and South Korea been particularly tense over the past year, but the two are technically still at war – an armistice was reached three years after the Korean War started in 1950, but no formal peace agreement has been made.

The North Korean team walked off the pitch in protest over the mix-up, but later returned to the pitch (and beat Colombia 2-0).

“If this matter couldn’t have been resolved, then I thought going on is nonsense,” coach Sin Ui Gun said through an interpreter after the match. “We were angry because our players were introduced as if they were from South Korea, which may affect us very greatly as you might know.”

The London Olympics organisers apologised for the error, saying:

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 that 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.

Video, photos: the first controversy of London 2012 Olympics
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    North Korean fans (and flag) in the stand at Hampden Park, Glasgow. (Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)
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    A screengrab of the error on a huge screen at the Glasgow pitch.
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    A series of flags displayed prior to the match at Hampden Park. (Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)
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    North Korean official Son Kwang Ho (second right) talks to other officials as the Colombia v North Korea Women's Football, First Round, Group G match was delayed due to the flag mix-up. (EMPICS Sport/EMPICS Sport)
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    The North Korean flag correctly displayed later in the evening. (Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)

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