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North Korean women's team stage walk out in row over flag mix up

updated 11:36 AM EDT, Thu July 26, 2012
  • North Korean women's team walk off pitch prior to their Olympic clash with Colombia
  • Flag of neighbors South Korea apparently displayed on big screen before match
  • Match begins an hour after scheduled time after Olympics organizers issue apology
  • Team GB, Team USA and Japan kick off their London 2012 campaigns with victories

(CNN) -- North Korea's women's team walked off the pitch prior to their Olympic football clash with Colombia after the flag of archrival South Korea was mistakenly shown on Hampden Park's big screen.

The team left the pitch in Glasgow shortly before the scheduled kick off at 7.45 pm local time after a South Korean flag appeared next to profiles of their players.

They eventually returned to start the match over an hour later, as London Games organizers were forced to issue a hasty apology.

"Today ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag," a statement released to CNN read.

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"Clearly this is a mistake, we will apologize to the team and the national Olympic committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."

The delayed kick off didn't seem to affect North Korea when the game eventually got underway as they recorded a 2-0 win.

It marked a controversial start to Olympic competition for London before Friday's opening ceremony officially kicks off the 2012 Games.

Earlier, Team GB's women's team gave the host nation a rousing start to the festivities with a 1-0 victory over New Zealand.

In front of a crowd of around 25,000 fans at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff -- the biggest attendance for a women's international match in Britain -- Stephanie Houghton scored the only goal of the game.

It was the first time a female football team from Great Britain has ever competed in the Olympics, coming 62 years after a men's team from the UK last played.

In Wednesday's other matches, defending champions Team USA got off to a winning start after beating France 4-2 at a sparsely populated Hampden Park in Glasgow.

Current FIFA Women's World Cup holders Japan won their opening match by beating Canada 2-1 at the Ricoh Arena, Brazil thumped Cameroon 5-0 and Sweden beat South Africa 4-1.

Bright sunshine in the Welsh capital greeted the first spectators to witness an Olympic event under the London 2012 banner, as Team GB kicked off what was billed as "day-2" of the Games.

Despite large sections of the vast Millennium Stadium being empty the match attracted 25,000 fans, many more than the 14,505 that saw Wales play Russia in a World Cup qualifier back in 2010.

After a bright start from New Zealand, Team GB took control of the game, but after spurning numerous chances they had to wait for Houghton to break the deadlock on 64 minutes with a well struck free kick.

And they were thankful to goalkeeper Karen Bardsley to deny Sarah Gregorius after a mix-up in Team GB's defense offered the Football Fearns a glorious late chance to equalize.

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After the game Houghton, who plays for Arsenal Ladies, told the host broadcaster: "It was something special, and I'm sure my family are really proud. I don't think it will sink in for a while. I'm just glad it got us the win.

"The win was brilliant. We needed three points and we got them. We worked very hard as a team under hard conditions."

In Scotland, Team USA made a sluggish start to the defense of the gold they won in Beijing, falling 2-0 down to France after just 13 minutes.

But goals from Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd and a double from Alex Morgan ensured three points for Team USA.

Elsewhere, Japan -- the current FIFA Women's World Cup holders -- beat Canada 2-1, thanks to goals from Nahomi Kawasumi and Aya Miyama at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

Thursday sees the start of the men's football competition, with Team GB taking on Senegal at Manchester United's Old Trafford home.

The other fixtures are as follows: Honduras vs. Morocco, Spain vs. Japan, Mexico vs. South Korea, Gabon vs. Switzerland, United Arab Emirates vs. Uruguay, Egypt vs. Brazil and Belarus vs. New Zealand.

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