LONDON — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says it's impossible for a country to stage an Olympics without making mistakes — comments that came as Britain faced criticism over security woes and a blunder over North Korea's flag.
Romney, who served as the head of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, was meeting with British leaders and senior lawmakers Thursday, a day ahead of the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.
"It is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur," Romney said Thursday, as he met main opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband at the Houses of Parliament.
"Of course there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes," he said.
On Wednesday, British authorities mistakenly displayed the South Korean flag on a jumbo screen instead of North Korea's flag ahead of a women's soccer match, prompting the North Koreans to refuse to take the field for nearly an hour.
After meeting with Miliband, reporters pressed Romney to clarify remarks made Wednesday, which some in Britain had interpreted as criticism of the country's preparations for the Olympics.
"You know, it's hard to know just how well it ... will turn out," Romney had said in the interview with NBC News.
He cited problems with the G4S security contractor, which has struggled to provide enough guards for sporting venues, prompting Britain to call up thousands of extra troops. Romney also noted worries over a planned strike this week by British immigration staff, a walkout that has since been averted.
"There are a few things that were disconcerting" as Britain made final preparations for the opening ceremony, Romney said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was hosting Romney at his official Downing Street residence, told reporters that the U.S. candidate and others would soon "see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver."