The international community is trying to come to terms with the shock revelation that some countries with which nations have links, simply do not exist.
Two hundred and four countries were represented at the opening ceremony of London 2012, and it is now clear that at least eight had been invented.
George Baker, President of the People's Democratic Republic of Yaminia, admitted his reservations about entering a team for London 2012. 'Many of us started making-up countries for a laugh,' he explained. 'We were surprised that our spoof nations were so readily accepted by governments, sporting bodies, companies and other organisations without adequate geographical verification. I thought it was risky for so many of us to enter teams for the Olympics,' he continued. 'The part of the opening ceremony in which all teams process into the Olympic Stadium always gets a bit tedious for spectators and viewers, and it was likely that some of the billion people watching would Google the countries they hadn't heard of, to help pass the time. Someone was bound to discover that a number did not exist.'
Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, rapidly convened a press conference to minimise the impact of this revelation on the Games. 'The eight bogus countries identified so far have been suspended from the IOC,' he told reporters. 'A quick head count within those teams has indicated that many of their athletes do not exist, either, but those who are real will not be allowed to compete at the Games.'
'I'm extremely disappointed,' said one banned athlete, Peter Harris from the Masodian Republic of Crotinia. 'I'd really been looking forward to competing in the Olympic Taekwondo competition. I'd even brought a book that explains the rules, and I'd been practising a bit in the last week or two.'
This news from the Olympics has prompted other organisations to verify the existence of member countries and states. Of most concern is the discovery that at least four member countries of the United Nations are fictitious.
John Handly, who leads the non-existent Zaharian Territories from his garage in Bolton, was philosophical about the phone call, early this morning, from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ban Ki-moon told him that he should collect his stuff from the UN building asap. 'I'm surprised we got away with it for so long.' Supreme Ruler Handly told BBC News. 'It was great fun voting on UN resolutions, though. It must have been even more fun for the fake country on the UN Security Council. I'll certainly miss the IMF loans and the EU subsidies,' he added.
The end of uncritical acceptance of bogus countries has also averted a potential international crisis. It has emerged that the recent decision by Joyce Smith, Queen of Garanaland, to declare war on the Democratic Republic of Toboglo could have led to a wider conflict.
'Joyce lives next door,' explained Henry Gibbons, President of Toboglo, from his home in Huddersfield. 'I didn't take her too seriously when she said that if I didn't cut down my leylandii trees, she would declare war. After all,' he told Sky News, 'it's just her and her mum who are Garanaland nationals, and Toboglo only has a population of five, if you count Aunt Edith. It then emerged,' he continued, 'that Garanaland was a member of NATO, and a pre-emptive strike on my hedge by the RAF was already in an advanced stage of planning.'
'We are currently working to ensure that all non-existent countries are identified,' confirmed UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague. 'We recommend, however, that the public exercise caution to ensure that any foreign country they plan to visit, or do business with, can, in fact, be found on a map.'