London Olympic organizers mistakenly displayed the South Korean flag on a jumbo screen instead of North Korea’s before a women’s soccer match Wednesday in Glasgow, Scotland, prompting the North Koreans to refuse to take the field for nearly an hour.
The flag flap began during player introductions when a North Korean player was introduced along with a shot of the South Korean flag.
The match against Colombia was delayed for more than an hour, and organizers apologized for the error.
“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. Clearly that is a mistake,” organizers said. “We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”
The International Olympic Committee put the responsibility on London officials.
North Korea and South Korea are bitter rivals. The flag mix-up comes amid high tension on the Korean Peninsula following a North Korean long-range rocket launch in April and repeated threats by Pyongyang to attack the South.
Wednesday’s match started 1 hour, 5 minutes late. Fans were confused at first, then turned to doing the wave and finally started booing as they became increasingly restless.
Players from both teams finally emerged onto the field about 40 minutes after the match was supposed to begin. The players warmed up again for 10 minutes before they returned inside the tunnel to be led out again for the national anthems. North Korea won 2-0.
Moroccan runner suspended
The IAAF suspended Moroccan runner Mariem Alaoui Selsouli from the London Olympics after she tested positive for doping.
The governing body said Selsouli tested positive for the diuretic furosemide at the Paris Diamond League meeting on July 6.
Selsouli became an Olympic medal favorite after clocking 3 minutes, 56.15 seconds in the 1,500 meters – more than 4 seconds below her personal best time – in Paris.
“Selsouli has waived her right to the B (backup sample) analysis, and as a result has now been provisionally suspended from all competition in athletics,” the IAAF said in a statement.
The 28-year-old runner faces a lifetime ban if the second doping offense of her career is proven. Selsouli finished serving a two-year ban last August for using EPO before the 2009 world championships.
Around the games
Two-time Olympic fencing champion Mariel Zagunis will carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony of the London Games. She was the first American to win a fencing gold in 100 years at the 2004 Athens Games … Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka are seeded No. 1 for the Olympic singles tournaments at Wimbeldon. Novak Djokovic is seeded No. 2. Wimbledon winner Serena Williams is seeded fourth in the women’s draw. Serena and Venus Williams, bidding for a third Olympic doubles title, are unseeded in the women’s doubles … The top court in international sports has ordered South Africa to select rider Alexander Peternell in equestrian eventing. This was the first case handled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s special London Games division …. Sebastian Coe wants to become president of track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, in 2015. Coe is head of London’s Olympic organizing committee and a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500 meters.
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