Science

Backlash from Excluding Iran from Olympic Smartphone Provision

Backlash from Excluding Iran from Olympic Smartphone Provision

The apology appeared to have helped defuse a spat in which Iran on Thursday summoned South Korea's ambassador over reports that its athletes would not receive a $1,100 smartphone each.

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.

Shahrokh Shahnazi, secretary-general of Iran's National Olympic Committee, told the agency: "The Samsung company and anyone involved in disrespecting Iranian athletes participating in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics must apologise to Iran's team, and the Islamic republic of Iran will not compromise on this issue".

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.

Qassemi said the South Korean envoy was notified of Iran's strong protest at such an "immoral behavior that runs counter to the prevailing spirit in the Olympic games" which he said is founded on inclusion of all athletes irrespective of race, color, religion or political issues.

"They are awaiting the official and written response", Hassan Taherian, Iran's ambassador to South Korea, told the official Irna news agency.

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Giving smartphones to North Korean athletes could violate UN Security Council sanctions banning the supply of luxury goods or electronic devices that can potentially be used for military purposes.

The IOC also said it is ready hold a meeting on Saturday with the Iranian athletes as part of a mollifying gesture.

"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".

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". Iran has four competitors at the Olympics. The committee reversed its decision not to allow athletes from Iran to have smartphones Samsung has provided to all Olympic athletes due to sanctions.

Although the game organisers backtracked, reports of the incident caused a storm in Iran where Samsung has a major presence.


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