Of All the Flags

In all the hype surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic games, and constant news coverage of the biggest this and the most complex that – attention has turned to smaller issues. Like Flags.

With North Korea’s women’s football team being displayed next to South Korea’s flag at yesterday’s football match, I was invited into the BBC News TV studios overlooking the Olympic Park to discuss with Ben Brown, how these sort of things can happen.

I explained, that in all the build up to events like these, focus is on all the big picture issues – for months – or years even. Getting venues ready, getting people in place and getting all the infrastructure prepared – all the big picture activity dominates everything for what can seem like eternity.

As the events and deadlines approach, focus moves to more detailed, little things. Like flags. And having been focused on all things huge for so long, the little things can easily get overlooked.

Of course it shouldn’t happen, and systems are set up to make sure they don’t – but it’s easy to see how mistakes like this can happen.

Asked how to prevent it happening again, I pointed out that the surest way, is to make sure that those that made the mistake are still in their post (and not fired). A mistake like that sharpens your game. This I can assure you!

As it’s so easy to make such mistakes – we always do our best to separate, as far as is possible, those responsible for creative or detailed work from the high-pressure and often chaotic goings on around them – and the politics that comes with it. It’s only with this separation that those responsible have the necessary freedom and clarity of mind to focus on the oh-so-important little things. Like flags.