The Winter Olympics are still four months away, but organizers of PyeongChang 2018 have already made a major gaffe – publishing a map on the official website of the Games completely omitting Japan.
The Japan Sports Agency said officials, after receiving phone calls from eagle-eyed members of the public, found the mistake in the ‘Dream Program’ section of the website on Wednesday.
The agency then demanded a correction via the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo, agency official Masahide Katsumata said, according to AP.
An official from the PyeongChang organizing committee called the omission a “simple mistake,” caused by changes in image files when organizers updated the Olympics website in February.
The “mistake” has since been fixed, but Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has warned that his country will “keep watching.”
Seoul and Tokyo continue to dispute matters of political geography, Japan wanting South Korea to stop referring to the body of water between them as the East Sea and instead refer to it as the Sea of Japan.
Both countries also claim a set of remote islands in that sea, referred to as Dokdo by South Korea and Takeshima by Japan. The Korean name is listed on another map on the PyeongChang 2018 website, a move which Suga has called “extremely inappropriate” while stressing that Tokyo will maintain its protest.
Tensions between the two countries are nothing new, dating back at least as far as Japan’s colonial rule of Korea from 1910-1945, and its army’s enslavement of Korean women in brothels during World War II – the so-called “comfort women” issue.
There are also specific hard feelings surrounding the Olympic Games, with Seoul rejecting an offer from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2014 to co-host the Games with Japan as a cost-cutting measure.
“The South Korean people would never accept it,” Choi Moon-soon, governor of Gangwon province, which contains PyeongChang, said at the time.
The IOC’s offer came after the two countries co-hosted the 2002 World Cup at the suggestion of the tournament’s organizer, FIFA, after both countries had fiercely competed for the chance to host. The rivalry continued throughout the process, with South Korea demanding to be listed first in the ‘2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan’ in exchange for Japan having the championship match played on its soil.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place from February 9-25.