Not that Korean flag... It all kicks off at the Games

Day one of Olympics and North Korea's football team are greeted on big screen with South's flag

Lord Coe might well be quietly pleased. Fully two days before the Opening Ceremony and the 2012 Games already had its first moment of Olympic gold.

It was a simple mistake for a scoreboard operator to make – displaying the South Korean flag, rather than the North Korean one, before the latter's opening match in the women's football tournament. But there's history between the two nations. Officially, they've been at war since the 1950s.

The scoreboard at Glasgow's Hampden Park began running through the names and numbers of the North Korean women's football team, but it hadn't got as far as the left-back before the team were off the pitch, refusing to play. It took more than an hour of negotiation for them to consent to return, once the flag was replaced with the correct one.

A hastily issued statement from London 2012 organisers read: "We will apologise to the team and the national Olympic committee and steps will be taken to ensure no repeat."

But even this contrite gesture backfired when Locog, the Games' organising committee, realised it had used the wrong official country names for both North and South Korea. They were quickly forced to issue a revised version of the apology, reading: "Today 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."

Surprisingly the mix-up proved a boon for the People's Republic of North Korea, who took a one-goal lead against their Colombian opponents, but it will have been a logistical nightmare for the state's broadcaster. Before now they have been known to show the men's World Cup matches with a time delay, editing out the goals, or broadcasting whichever half of a match the team fared better in, claiming it to be the match in its entirety.

As for Hampden Park, they can perhaps be forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal. Scotland's national stadium has all too often been the battleground for a rivalry almost as old as that between the Koreas – with Rangers and Celtic. It was only a few weeks ago that Rangers rather spectacularly took themselves out of the equation.

Yesterday, fans booed, and others left. The incident will be of concern to organisers, who have distributed thousands of free tickets to women's football matches, which are being played in stadiums many times larger than the record crowds for women's football.

Before the match, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore had said: "The Olympics is of huge importance and the fact Hampden will be front and centre as the world turns it attention to the UK is great news for Glasgow and Scotland as a whole.

"The Olympics is our chance to show the world what we are capable of as a nation and the hard work of people across the country is helping ensure the success of the Games."

A noble sentiment, no doubt, but one evidently not communicated to the Hampden scoreboard man.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power