The Commonwealth Games has got off to a farcical start in Australia after England were listed in the official programme located in Africa, with its capital city referenced as the Gambian city of Banjul.
Organisers accepted responsibility for the gaffe, which came on the same day as Aboriginal protestors held up the Queen’s Baton Relay for more than half an hour ahead of Wednesday’s opening ceremony.
The Games, which run until 15 April, begin with the opening ceremony on the Gold Coast where athletes will march together into the Carrara Stadium as is tradition, but the England team were surprised to discover that they had been officially listed as an African nation with a population of just over two million and a first Commonwealth Games entry in 1970.
Yet even though organisers offered to reprint the programmes – at a lengthy delay and sizeable cost given each programme sells for A$10 [£5.47] – Team England chiefs encouraged them not to as they saw the lighter side of the error.
"Sometimes you make mistakes, and we cop it,” said Mark Peters, chief executive of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Corporation.
"We found out about it maybe 10 days ago. We went and spoke to England and said that, 'Congratulations, the Commonwealth's changing and it has since Brexit. And part of you is now part of Africa'.
“We said 'we're prepared to pulp and start again, it may cause us some timing problems'.”
"They were absolutely emphatic that, at the end of the day, they're so pleased to be here and (with) everything else that has been organised, and they implored us not to do that.”
Peters did confirm though that a small allocation will be reprinted to ensure that there are accurate programmes for Team England, along with ensuring that the Commonwealth records are kept accurate.
"We're actually doing a special reprint of 500 to give to the English and the Commonwealth Games Federation to make sure, in terms of the records, that it is done correctly,” Peters added.
"And we looked at putting stickers into the programmes and all that. But I guess they're going to be so valuable after the Games because of that mistake."
Ghana women’s hockey captain Nafisatu Umaru made light of the accident during her press conference as she “humbly” welcomed England to Africa, triggering laughter from the world’s media that had assembled to the first day of the Games, and she added: "England has made a big impact for us and England is part of our success story.”
The error is the latest in a line of mistakes after around 14,000 tickets were printed for the opening ceremony in February with the wrong date on them. The official ticket seller was also criticised in the same month for stating the wrong session times on hundreds of tickets for various sporting events.
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