The North Korean women’s national soccer team refused to take the field for over an hour Wednesday after Olympic organizers used the South Korean flag to represent the team.
North Korea, often considered the most politically isolated nation on Earth, has been in a technical state of war with South Korea since 1950.
The flag mix-up left London organizers with egg on their faces, and North Korean officials steaming.
“This should not have happened,” said Chang Ung, the North Korean IOC (International Olympic Committee) member, saying things could be worse if such a mistake happened at an awards ceremony. “With 302 medal awarding ceremonies, if something bad happened, that’s damaging for the IOC.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge apologized for the mistake.
“I can assure you the organizing committee has taken corrective action so that this will not happen in the future. There is no political connotation in that. It was just a simple human mistake.”
Chang said that he and the team accepted the apology of the games organizers.
“They apologized to the national team, that’s enough,” he said. He did, however, recommend that organizers consult with team officials before games begin to ensure that national symbols are correct.
“Beforehand, the protocol people should invite the team leader or captain to come up,” Chang said.
Image Credit: Michael Day