South Korean TV network sorry for 'inappropriate' Olympic ceremony country images

A South Korean TV network was forced to issue an apology after using offensive images and captions to depict several nations during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.

During the live ceremony, broadcaster MBC used an array of images when each nation entered the stadium, ranging from the harmless - salmon for Norway - to the controversial, which included using a picture of Chernobyl when it was Ukraine’s turn.

Following an online backlash, MBC said in a statement: "Inappropriate images and captions were used to introduce some stories. We apologised to those countries including Ukraine and our viewers.”

In captions to describe the Marshall Islands, the network stated that the country was "a former nuclear test site for the United States".

Haitian competitors were also accompanied by a caption which read: "The political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president." MBC added Syria was known for “a civil war that has been going on for 10 years”.

Less controversial images were also used by MBC, South Korea’s official Olympic broadcaster. The network kept to the gastronomic theme with a pizza depiction for Italy’s entrance and sushi for Japan alongside generic facts about each country.

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Olympic competitors were accompanied by a photo of the Queen while other stereotypical images saw the network use an image of Dracula for Romania.

It was reported that the words “Chernobyl” and “national disgrace” were trending on Twitter in South Korea as the opening ceremony in Tokyo took place.

Meanwhile, a Canadian broadcaster mistook Australia’s basketball player Patty Mills for a woman during the ceremony.

The basketball stalwart was Australia’s first Indigenous flag bearer alongside swimming star Cate Campbell.

But a CBC commentator said: “And you know what, I think they had two women carry the flag. Cate Campbell the swimmer and Patty Mills the basketball player."

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic flame to mark the opening of the delayed Games on Friday night.

"Today is a moment of hope," said Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment because finally we are all here together."