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Iranian athletes to receive Olympic mobile phones

10 February 2018

Samsung, an official partner of the IOC, has provided four thousand of the Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition smartphone to all athletes and IOC officials visiting PyeongChang.

North Korean and Iranian athletes at the Winter Olympics will not receive high-end smartphones being handed out to their fellow competitors because of United Nations sanctions, organisers said on Wednesday.

Games organisers had refused on Wednesday to give athletes from Iran and North Korea the Galaxy Note 8 devices from sponsor Samsung, loaded with essential logistical and competition information, due to global sanctions.

The envoy has assured Iran of frequent contacts with South Korea's foreign ministry and government to pursue the case, Qassemi added, quoting the ambassador as saying that South Korean government authorities and Samsung officials have denied any involvement in handing out the smartphones.

News reports earlier said 4000 of the latest Samsung smartphones were being given to athletes attending the Winter Games, but athletes from Iran and North Korea would be excluded because of sanctions against the two countries.

On Friday, the Games' organisers acknowledged sending a letter of apology to the Iranians, saying Samsung's action was due to a misunderstanding.

After the apology on Friday, Iranian Sports Minister Masoud Soltanifar indicated that Iran was satisfied.

If Samsung Electronics does not withdraw from its decision until Thursday afternoon, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif will not use Samsung any more as he has it now as his cell phone, the source told Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Although they backtracked the following day, the incident caused a storm in Iran where Samsung had a major presence.

North Koreans will still not be getting the smartphones.

The IOC has confirmed that the Iranian athletes are entitled to receive and keep the phones.

The devices retail for around 1,000,000 South Korean won (R10,945) and so could fall foul of measures banning supplies of luxury goods.

Samsung, a big player in Iran's electronics market, had said the International Olympic Committee was responsible for distributing gifts at the Olympics and had no further comment.

Iranian athletes to receive Olympic mobile phones