Pyeongchang organizing committee apologizes to Iran over gift ban

Pyeongchang organizing committee apologizes to Iran over gift ban

Pyeongchang organizing committee apologizes to Iran over gift ban

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an Iranian athlete has, meanwhile, told Sputnik that "Samsung issued a Galaxy Note 8 to all athletes participating in the Olympics, including Iranians" and that it had been Korean authorities who "did not hand in the gadgets to Iranian athletes".

The ambassador was warned that "if Samsung does not make its excuses this affair will have strong repercussions on commercial relations between the Samsung Group and the Islamic Republic of Iran".

News reports said 4,000 of the phones were being given to athletes attending the Pyeongchang Games, but that athletes from Iran and North Korea would be excluded because of worldwide sanctions against the two countries.

Pyeongchang: Organisers of South Korea's Winter Olympics apologised to the Iranian team before Friday's opening ceremony for what they called a misunderstanding over gifts of Samsung mobile phones.

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

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

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.

Shoughi also pointed to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's warning not to use the Samsung phone if the company does not offer apologies.

But a Pyeongchang organising committee spokeswoman told AFP: "North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing United Nations sanctions" against the two countries.

Yonhap news agency said the North Koreans at the Games had refused the phones.

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An IOC spokesman was unable to confirm the reports when contacted by AFP.

The IOC stepped in late on Thursday to say athletes from both countries would receive the phones, but that the North Koreans would be asked not to take the devices home.

But the International Olympic Committee then chose to give the phones to the Iranians without any conditions.

The order came as Samsung, in a statement on Friday, rejected its involvement in the process to ban Iranian athletes from receiving its smartphones, saying that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is responsible.

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