Olympic phone snub angers Iran

Winter Olympics Say sorry or we won’t accept your smartphones Iran tells Samsung

JUNG YEON-JE AFP

The IOC had announced earlier Friday that it has chose to allow athletes from Iran and North Korea to receive the Olympic edition of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 after the Iranian government summoned the South Korean envoy to Tehran to lodge a formal complaint.

Also in a letter signed by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) Deputy Director General Pero Miro, the IOC expressed its "deepest regret for the unfortunate incident concerning the distribution of the phone to the Iranian athletes".

Iran on Thursday had summoned South Korea's ambassador over reports its athletes would not each receive a $1,100 smartphone.

Samsung billboards and flagship stores are seen all over Iran, and the South Korean company has sponsored many large-scale cultural events, including the current exhibition at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has since clarified that athletes from both countries would receive the Samsung phones, but that the North Koreans would be asked not to take them home.

Games organisers POCOG earlier said: "A letter was today sent from POCOG president Lee Hee-beom.to apologise for the misunderstanding regarding the distribution of mobile phones to the Iranian athletes".

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Iran also called for an apology from Samsung, claiming that its trade relations would otherwise be "greatly affected".

Earlier, it was reported that Samsung Electronics, which is one of the sponsors of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, is expected to offer at least 4,000 Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition phones to all athletes and International Olympic Committee officials, excluding 22 North Korean and four Iranian athletes.

In a press release to the Tehran Times, the ambassador said, "The Embassy of the Republic of Korea confirms that the unwise decision yesterday (Feb. 7) did come from neither the Korean government nor the Korean company in question". According to the Washington Post's Adam Taylor, Iran's Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs blasted the exclusion as "an insult to our athletes, who are representatives of the great, civilized Iranian people, and our peace messengers".

"Samsung Electronics delivered over 4,000 Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games Limited Edition - a special edition of Galaxy Note8 - to the IOC and Pyeongchang Organizing Committee".

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

The cases will feature the logo of the Paralympic Games.

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