Olympic Match Delayed by Flag Fiasco

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.

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Image Credit: Michael Day


Jean Sleigh
Jean Sleigh5 years ago

Oh for Pete's sake... haha!!!! This is ridiculous. I've learnt not to take flags, national anthems or anything such like too seriously... and I'M SOUTH AFRICAN!!!!!! haha... all such silliness. I know who I am and that's enough :) (and that's not to say I 'feel' SA-frican either...................)

Biby C.
Biby C5 years ago

I'm not a big fan of North Korea, but I agree with Shan D. Sports events of this magnitude are not just about personal glory. The glories that come out of them are shared by the whole nation.
And there's nothing comical about it, too, ANM.

Shan D.
Shan D5 years ago

"The north koreans should have been fined for their unsporting behaviour." - Lynne B. -

Actually, no. They had every right to be upset over the wrong flag being put up. No country should be made to compete under the wrong flag. This was a breach of protocol, and somebody was a careless idiot. But the mistake was rectified, apologies were made and accepted, and the game went on.

What's unsporting is when an athlete (or team) refuses to accept the final standings and there are no grounds for a protest. I remember seeing silver/bronze medallists refuse to get on the podium because they were throwing a snit over not winning gold. Even if there *were* grounds to protest - you do it AFTER, through proper channels, like the Canadians did in Salt Lake City when Romney's Olympics became the Judging Scandal Olympics. Our athletes clearly had the technically superior program and won gold, yet they still had the class to accept silver... and fight for their rightful placement afterward.

Lynne B.
Lynne B5 years ago

It was a mistake, a bad one but not deliberate. The north koreans should have been fined for their unsporting behaviour. Ok point out the mistake, then get on with it.

A N M.
anne M5 years ago

A dumb mistake for sure but, really, quite comical in a way if you think about it.

Katie K.
Katie K5 years ago

They might use the confederate flag for the US.

Chris Cole
Chris C5 years ago

Basically a pretty stupid mistake!!!! I'm sure there will be more.

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies5 years ago


Yvonne S.
Yvonne S5 years ago

It was undoubtedly a terrible mistake, but life has to go on and there is no point in dwelling on what has happened.

John Zalewski
John Z5 years ago

Even a bright third-grader knows there are two Korea's therefore two flags.