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(Olympics) Iranian athletes to receive Samsung phones without condition

2018/02/09 10:20

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By Kang Yoon-seung

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- Organizers for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics said Friday they have decided to provide free Samsung smartphones to Iranian athletes without the condition of returning them, amid looming anti-Samsung sentiment in Tehran.

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to allow the provision of the Galaxy Note 8 smartphones to four Iranian athletes without the condition of handing them back," an official from the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Games said.

The decision apparently came amid looming anti-Samsung sentiment in Iran after reports that their athletes will not be getting the smartphones reached the Middle East country.

The United Nations' sanctions ban providing North Korea and Iran with luxury goods or devices that can potentially be used for military purposes.

Samsung Electronics has provided some 4,000 units of the Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition to all athletes and International Olympic Committee officials visiting PyeongChang. There are 22 North Korean and four Iranian athletes at the 2018 Winter Games.

Teheran's foreign ministry on Thursday summoned South Korea's ambassador to Iran, demanding Seoul and Samsung deliver an apology. The South Korean tech giant is a worldwide Olympic partner company.

North Koreans will still not be getting the smartphones.

Through a statement provided to Yonhap News Agency on Thursday, the IOC said it has asked North Koreans to return the free handsets after the event.

"Regarding North Korea, all participants are requested not to take the phones back to their home country but to only use them during their stay in PyeongChang, since that is required to allow them to participate in the Games," the IOC said.

But another official said North Koreans still refused to receive the smartphones.

"There was a confusion as the IOC and organizers had to review legal issues on giving the Galaxy Note 8 smartphone to athletes from countries under international sanction," an official from the organizing committee said, apologizing to Samsung for being accused despite its good intentions.

colin@yna.co.kr

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