In the News – North Korean official to organizers: No more flag mistakes
By Chris Clark, AP
The North Korean women’s soccer team sings the national anthem before the group G match between Colombia and North Korea.
Chang Ung expressed his disappointment Thursday after theSouth Korean flag was mistakenly displayed on the giant screen before the women’s soccer game between North Korea and Colombia in Glasgow, Scotland, on Wednesday night.
The North Koreans refused to take the field for about an hour before the match went ahead. London organizers apologized.
“This should not have happened,” Chang told The Associated Press. “I am really surprised how … the London Olympic team, the protocol people, didn’t invite someone from the team to check if it is your flag.”
Chang proposed that Olympic protocol officials meet with team leaders before each medal ceremony to check that the correct flags and anthems are being used.
“With 302 medal awarding ceremonies, if something bad happened, that’s damaging for the IOC,” he said. “Beforehand, the protocol people should invite the team leader or captain to come up.”
Asked whether he was satisfied with the apology from London organizers, Chang said: “They apologized to the national team, that’s enough.”
Earlier, speaking during the final session of the IOC general assembly, Chang said the flag incident wasn’t a big political issue but further mix-ups could have negative political consequences for the Olympic movement.
IOC President Jacques Rogge responded that organizers had moved to fix the problem.
“This was a most unfortunate incident,” Rogge said. “I can assure you the organizing committee has taken corrective action so that this will not happen in the future. There is no political connotation in that. It was just a simple human mistake.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron echoed Rogge.
“This was an honest mistake, honestly made. An apology has been made, and I’m sure every step will be taken to make sure these things don’t happen again,” he said during a visit to the Olympic Park. “We shouldn’t over-inflate this episode. It was unfortunate, it shouldn’t have happened, and I think we can leave it at that.”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter also downplayed the flag dispute.
“This is such a minor incident which has been settled in the meantime and presented now here also in the IOC,” Blatter said. “I think it is more important to go to sport. As the representative of North Korea said, it’s not a political issue. I am happy about that.”