Wrong flags, racist tweets: hey Olympics!
The first day of sporting action at the London Olympics turned into an embarrassing own goal for organisers on Wednesday when the South Korean flag was mistakenly displayed before its sworn enemy North Korea's women's football match against Colombia.
The error prompted the North Korean team to walk off the field and caused a delay of more than an hour before the game, played in the Scottish city of Glasgow, eventually started.
Olympic organisers, hoping that sport would dominate headlines during a round of football matches held two days before the opening ceremony on Friday, were left red faced and apologised to a "very upset" North Korean delegation.
The only glimmer of consolation was that its team won 2–0, following host nation Britain's earlier victory over New Zealand in what should have been the dream start to London hosting the most prestigious event on the planet.
North and South Korea, bitter rivals since the 1950–53 war, have also been drawn against each other in the first round of the men's table tennis team event.
Further souring the mood at London's Olympic Park, where thousands of journalists and athletes were limbering up for the 27th July–12th August showcase, Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou was withdrawn from the Games for a racist tweet.
Her subsequent apology fell on deaf ears, with the head of the Greek Olympic mission, Isidoros Kouvelos, saying: "She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes."
With doping concerns at centre stage, nine track and field athletes have been banned for violations in a crackdown on the use of prohibited substances at the London Olympics.
The athletes, including leading Moroccan marathon runner Abderrahim Goumri, were all caught with the aid of the Athlete Biological Passport programme, which will be used at an Olympics for the first time in London.
Separately, fellow Moroccan 1,500m runner Mariem Alaoui Selsouli, a silver medallist at the world indoor championships this year, tested positive for a banned diuretic and will also miss the London Games.
Published: 26th July 2012