GLASGOW, Scotland – The flag flap that overshadowed the start of women’s soccer at the London Olympics might be consigned to a list of human errors by organizers, but it could hardly have been more insulting to North Koreans.

The team from the reclusive communist country was in seclusion Thursday at a Glasgow hotel after accepting profuse apologies from organizers, who mistakenly displayed the South Korean flag when introducing North Korean players before a game Wednesday night.

The North Koreans refused to take the field and considered withdrawing before finally playing Colombia. The game started more than an hour late; the North Koreans won, 2-0.

“Winning the game can’t compensate for the mistake,” North Korea Coach Sin Ui Gun said through an interpreter, still angry about such a major gaffe. “I just want to stress once again that our players’ images and names can’t be shown alongside the South Korea flag.”

North Korea’s IOC member, Chang Ung, wants Olympic organizers to make sure such a mistake never happens again, especially at medal ceremonies.

“This should not have happened,” Chang said. “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 officials meet with team leaders before each medal ceremony to confirm 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.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the apology, Chang said, “They apologized to the national team. That’s enough.”

Earlier, Chang said the flag mistake wasn’t “a big political issue,” but that further mix-ups could have “negative political consequences.”

The IOC president, Jacques Rogge, said it was a “most unfortunate incident.”


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