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Wed Apr 23 08:48:56 SAST 2014

Korean flag mix-up a 'simple human mistake'

Sapa-AFP | 26 July, 2012 14:400 Comments
The South Korea flag is displayed beside North Korea soccer player Song Hui Kim before the start of the women's Olympic match between North Korea and Colombia at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland July 25, 2012. A major diplomatic incident marred the first day of competition at the London Olympics on Wednesday when the North Korea women's football team walked off after the South Korea flag was mistakenly displayed before their match against Colombia
Image by: James Crossan/Handout / REUTERS

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge on Thursday blamed human error for the flag blunder which drew a protest from North Korea in the women’s football tournament.

Responding to a question from North Korean IOC member Ung Chang at the IOC session, Rogge said the incident at Wednesday night’s game in Glasgow was simply an “unfortunate incident.” 

North Korea refused to take the field for more than an hour after Hampden Park’s giant screen showed images of North Korean players next to the South Korean flag before their opening match with Colombia.

The game missed its 7:45 pm (1845 GMT) start after North Korea failed to appear. After it finally kicked off at 8:50 pm, North Korea won 2-0 with a goal in each half.

“It was a most unfortunate incident yesterday,” said Rogge. “I can assure you the organising committee will take corrective action and there will be no repeat. There is no political connotation just a simple human mistake.” 

However, Chang was not satisfied.

“Of course the people are angry,” Chang said after the Session had drawn to a close.

“If your athlete got a gold medal and the flag of some other country was put up what happens then? Imagine the reaction.” 

Relations between the two Koreas, still officially at war and sharing the world’s most heavily guarded border, have plunged in recent months over the communist North’s nuclear programme.

The countries did not hold talks on reprising 2004’s joint march at the Athens Olympics opening ceremony.

In Britain, North Korean officials have blocked South Korean media from covering their athletes’ training sessions, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.

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