The 2012 London Olympics were given the perfect start by Team GB winning their opening group game against New Zealand. Elsewhere, and before the final torch bearer has lit the cauldron to signify the official start of the games, football grounds up and down the country were witness to a showpiece performance by Brazil, an amazing comeback by the United States Women’s team and the odd bit of controversy  involving two neighbouring country’s flags.

Almost every conceivable contingency, failsafe and scenario must have played out in the minds of the Olympic organising committee since London was awarded the games back in 2005. Never could they have imagined the embarrassment and insult someone at Hampden Park in Scotland would cause when they displayed on the electronic scoreboard the faces of the North Korean women’s team but with the flag of the neighbouring country South Korea next to each player.

It is fully understandable that the team walked off in protest and refused to come back on for over an hour until the situation was rectified to their complete satisfaction. Imagine the scenario of the Falkland Islands making it to the World Cup Finals in Argentina and a person putting the name Las Malvinas or the Argentinian flag next to every player?  The scandal and shock that would traverse the footballing world; imagine that scenario and then magnify it by the width of the 38th parallel and it becomes more than understandable, it becomes an international embarrassment.

The game between North Korea and Columbia would be forever overshadowed by this act and it could overshadow the women’s football tournament which got off to a perfect start by Hope Powell’s team. With Team GB beating New Zealand 1-0, it was up to Group E favourites Brazil to make their biggest rivals for the Gold medal, notably Spain and the United States that they didn’t travel all the way to the U.K. just to show their talent. In possibly one of the most one-sided games you are likely to see at this year’s Olympics, The team from South America destroyed Cameroon 5-0 to sit on top of the group after the first round of matches.

Elsewhere the competition, both Japan and Sweden gained maximum points by beating Canada and South Africa respectively in Group F and in Group G, the United States had to come from behind against France to win 4-2 and when the game finally finished at Hampden Park, an hour late and in front of only the most dedicated of fans, North Korea beat Columbia 2-0.

The first round of matches in the women’s tournament saw the usual suspects get the wins they were expected to but it also will be remembered for the wrong flag, it’s a good job everyone knows which way up the Union Flag is supposed to go…

Ian D. Hall