(Olympics) Iranian athletes to receive Samsung phones without condition

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Reuters, in turn, quoted an International Olympic Committee spokesperson as saying on Friday that "the International Olympic Committee will provide mobile phones to all athletes of all countries" taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics, given that "these phones contain essential logistical and competition information for the athletes".

According to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi, South Korea's ambassador to Tehran was summoned to the ministry on Wednesday evening in the wake of reports that Iranian athletes, together with North Koreans, would not receive high-end smartphones being handed out by the sponsor of the Winter Olympics in South Korea to all competitors.

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.

A local news agency quoted the country's prosecutor general as saying saying the chief of Samsung Electronics' local affiliate will be summoned for questioning over the insult suffered by Iranian athletes.

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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Earlier, Iran had warned Samsung of "repercussions" after the snub.

Irna reported yesterday that "an informed source" had said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would stop using his Samsung mobile if there was no apology.

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

But there was concern the phones provided certain countries, namely North Korea and Iran, could violate global sanctions.

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.

Referring to Tehran boosting full-fledged cooperation with a number of countries after the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, he said that "apart from the politicization of sports, the organizers of the 2018 Olympics are very far from the political and economic realities that are taking place in the region".

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