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Flag blunder at soccer clash

26 July 2012, 09:43

 Glasgow - North Korea's first women's soccer match of the London Olympics was delayed for more than an hour on Wednesday after they refused to play in an embarrassing mix-up over national flags.

A source told AFP the team were angry after Hampden Park's giant screen showed images of North Korean players next to the South Korean flag before their match with Colombia.

The game failed to start as scheduled at 20:45 SA time after North Korea refused to take the field. It finally kicked off at 21:50.

Olympics organisers said they would apologise to North Korea over the blunder, which came on the first day of competition of London 2012.

"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," said a statement from London 2012 organisers.

"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."

It recalls a similar incident in March, when organisers of a shooting competition in Kuwait played a spoof anthem from comedy film "Borat" instead of the Kazakh national verse.

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 North's nuclear programme.

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

However South Korea's weightlifters politely rearranged a training session this week after the North Korean team arrived at the same venue at the same time.



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