Wrong flag peeves N. Korean teamLONDON - A women’s football contest at the London Olympics between North Korea and Colombia was delayed by about an hour Wednesday after organizers mistakenly displayed the South Korean national flag on the scoreboard.
North Korean players refused to take the field after the flag row took place during player introductions at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Organizers apologized for the mishap.
“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,” the organizing committee said in a statement, referring to the two Koreas by their official names. “Clearly, that is a mistake. We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”
The match, the opening Group G action, started an hour and five minutes late. North Korea won the game 2-0.
The flag flap comes amid heightened tension on the divided Korean Peninsula. Effects of strained ties have carried over into the realms of athletics here in London. North Korean officials have blocked South Korean media from covering their athletes’ training sessions before the Olympics, which start Friday.
The Koreas were welcomed into athletes’ village earlier Wednesday. North Korean officials refused to answer any inquiries from South Korean journalists.
Athletes from the two Koreas marched in under one flag at opening ceremonies for the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and even ate and trained together. But inter-Korean relations have deteriorated since, and there have been no talks of sports exchange at the Olympic level since before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.