The protest song "Glory to Hong Kong" was captioned instead of "March of the Volunteers" when the Chinese national anthem was played at an international rugby match ©Getty Images

National flag and anthem guidelines have been issued by the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC) for international events following several errors made at rugby tournaments.

The Chinese national anthem was twice incorrectly titled as the protest song Glory to Hong Kong during a broadcast of Hong Kong's 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifier against Portugal in Dubai earlier this month.

After images of the blunder appeared, the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) said on Saturday (November 19) that it had received an apology from World Rugby which claimed it was "an error of the graphics operator".

It was also confirmed by the HKRU that the same issue had occurred during another Rugby World Cup qualifier in July when Hong Kong faced Tonga.

"Playing or labelling the national anthem of China incorrectly is both disrespectful and hurtful to the people of Hong Kong and the nation, and the HKRU has again expressed its extreme dissatisfaction with World Rugby for this serious error," a statement from HKRU read, as reported by the Hong Kong Free Press.

The incident came less than a week after Glory to Hong Kong was used at an Asia Rugby Men's Sevens Series tournament in South Korea.

Police in Hong Kong launched an investigation into the use of the pro-democracy protest song which was banned in 2020 after China imposed national security laws that punished what the country's Government defined as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

Following the incidents, the SF&OC has released guidelines on the national flag and anthems to ensure there are official standards for when Hong Kong competes in international competitions, as reported by Hong Kong newspaper The Standard.

"When mistakes on the national flag and anthems occur during a competition, the representatives must use gestures to ask for an immediate suspension and correction," said Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, honorary secretary general of SF&OC.

"The position must be served by the most senior members of the team such as team leaders, coaches and captains."

Pui Kwan Kay, chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association, said the organisation would consider boycotting tournaments if organisers were "responsible and conduct the offences repeatedly or deliberately".

In recent years Beijing has launched a crackdown on personal freedoms and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which still competes separate from China at the Olympics.

A woman who waived a colonial-era Hong Kong flag when celebrating Cheung Ka Long’s fencing gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was recently jailed for three months.