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North Korea women’s soccer team refuses to take field over flag dispute

Jay Busbee
Fourth-Place Medal

The North Korean players were depicted next to the flag for South Korea. (Photo via @jamescrossan)

The Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games has not even begun, and we have our first political controversy.

On Wednesday, the North Korea women's soccer team refused to take the field for approximately an hour at Hampden Park in Glasgow because of a political slight. As North Korea was preparing to take the field for its match against Colombia, the scoreboard introduced the North Korea players with South Korea's flag beside their pictures.

Both teams returned to their locker rooms for a brief stay, but took the field soon afterward to begin warm-ups for the game.

[ Related: Greek jumper kicked off team for racist tweet ]

London's Olympic committee issued a hasty apology:

"Today ahead of the women's football match at Hampden the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen instead of Flag NK," a statement from the Games organizers read. "Clearly that is a mistake. We will apologize to the team and the national Olympic committee and steps will be taken to ensure no repeat."

North Korea's action adds to the long list of political protests that have delayed or disrupted past Olympic Games:

• Most notoriously, Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Games.

• The United States and 60 other countries pulled out of the 1980 Games in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviets and a dozen allies refused to attend the 1984 games in retaliation.

[ Video: Palestinian terrorists rocked the 1972 Munich Games ]

• In 1976, 32 African countries stayed out of the Montreal Olympics to protest a move by New Zealand's rugby team to tour then-segregated South Africa.

• American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave a Black Power salute on the medal podium in the 1968 Games in Mexico City.

• In 2004, Iranian judo competitor Arash Miresmaeili allegedly ate himself out of his weight class in order to avoid fighting Ehud Vaks of Israel to show solidarity with Palestine.

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