London-based Olympic officials 'to blame' over wrong Korean flag

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Media caption,

Flag error offends North Koreans

Olympic officials in London are to blame for a flag row which jeopardised a women's football game at Hampden Stadium in Glasgow, it has emerged.

The North Korean women's team walked off after a video introducing their players showed the South Korean flag. They later returned to play the match.

BBC Scotland understands the video package was sent from London and Hampden organisers had no input.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "an honest mistake".

In a news conference on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Games, he told assembled journalists: "This was an honest mistake, honestly made.

"An apology has been made and I'm sure every step has been taken to ensure these things don't happen again.

"We shouldn't over-inflate this episode - it was unfortunate, it shouldn't have happened and I think we can leave it at that."

BBC Scotland's Olympics correspondent Kheredine Idessane said: "These video packages are sent centrally from London, out to the other venues, so, this isn't a Glasgow problem.

"There were the correct North Korean flags flying in the top tier of the stadium where they have all the flags displayed from countries who are competing in the tournament."

The North Korean team could only be persuaded to return for their match against Colombia after the error was corrected.

As yet the London games organisers have been unable to clarify who made the video.

The blunder had the impact it did because of the situation which exists between both Koreas.

Image caption,
Members of the North Korean Olympic team are staying at a Glasgow hotel

Both countries are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice.

Speaking after the match, North Korea's coach Sin Ui Gun said: "Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly."

A statement released by London 2012 organisers said: "Ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the Republic of Korea flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea 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."

The incident made headlines around the world - except in communist controlled North Korea.

State news agency KCNA reported the women's Olympic football team beating Colombia 2-0 but made no mention of the flag row.

Meanwhile, Hampden Stadium will host two more Olympic football games on Thursday.

In the men's preliminaries, Honduras play Morocco at 12:00, followed by Spain v Japan at 14:45.

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