Rio Organizers Cause Uproar After Bungling Chinese Flags | NBC Bay Area
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Rio Organizers Cause Uproar After Bungling Chinese Flags

Chinese observers spotted that the smaller stars on the flags were oriented parallel to the bigger one

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    AFP/Getty Images
    China's flag bearer Lei Sheng leads his national delegation during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. The organizers were forced to order new flags after people noticed the flag being used at the Games was incorrectly printed.

    Tip to event organizers everywhere: Check your flags and anthems. Then, check them again.

    Rio Games organizers who managed to irritate China by using incorrectly printed Chinese flags can take consolation from the fact that they are not the first to make such gaffes and, judging from how often these errors happen, surely won't be the last. 

    Red-faced Rio organizers quickly ordered new flaw-free flags from a Brazilian supplier. 

    "They are producing a bunch of flags correctly now. The first flags should be delivered here shortly," organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said Monday. 

    "We do understand that there is a problem with the flag. It's very small. You have to be very familiar with the Chinese flag to understand that," he said. "However, we need to correct." 

    On the five-starred red Chinese flag, the four smaller yellow stars are meant to be slightly tilted so they point toward the heart of the big star. 

    Eagle-eyed Chinese observers quickly spotted that the small stars on flags used in Rio, including one waved by China's flag-bearer, fencer Lei Sheng, at the Olympic opening ceremony, weren't tilted but straight and orientated parallel with the big one. 

    A small error, perhaps, but one that still made people upset. 

    "The botched flag has been a source of public disappointment," noted the online edition of the Chinese government newspaper People's Daily. It said China's consul general in Rio contacted Rio organizers and demanded an immediate fix.

    Here's a quick look at flag flap and errors at other events. 

    COPA AMERICA 2016: At the Copa America in June, the national anthem of Chile was mistakenly played instead of the one for Uruguay when Uruguay played Mexico. The Uruguayan players stood silently, many with blank stares , while the wrong anthem was played. 

    Copa America blamed "a human error" and said: "We sincerely apologize to the Uruguayan Federation, the Uruguay National Team, to the people of Uruguay and to the fans for this mistake." 

    LONDON OLYMPICS, 2012: The South Korean flag was mistakenly displayed on a giant screen before a women's football game between North Korea and Colombia. The North Koreans refused to take the field for about an hour before the match went ahead. London organizers apologized for what British then-Prime Minister David Cameron called "an honest mistake, honestly made."

    ARAB SHOOTING CHAMPIONSHIPS, KUWAIT, 2012: During the award ceremony for Kazakhstan gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko, the public address system played the spoof anthem from the 2006 comedy movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," a film that offended many Kazakhs by portraying the country as backward and degenerate.

    Kazakhstan called the mix-up "a scandal." The Kazakh news agency Tengri quoted team coach Anvar Yunusmetov as saying tournament organizers had downloaded various countries' national anthems from the internet. Organizers expressed "deep sorrow" for the mistake, which they said was corrected, with the national anthem of Kazakhstan played afterward.

    ASEAN MEETING, NEW YORK, 2010: Sports events don't have a monopoly on errors.

    When President Barack Obama hosted leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an inverted Philippine flag — which wrongfully signified that the Southeast Asian nation was in a state of war — was displayed upside down behind then-President Benigno Aquino III.

    The U.S. government blamed "an honest mistake" and said "the U.S. treasures its close relationship and close partnership with the Philippines."