Iran athletes demand Samsung apologise over Olympic snub

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In a letter to the head of Iranian convoy to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the committee officially apologized over the move.

Iran on Thursday had summoned South Korea's Ambassador to the country over reports that its athletes would not each receive the 1,100 dollars smartphone.

The games' sponsor Samsung Electronics had donated some 4,000 "Olympic edition" Galaxy Note 8 smartphones as a gift to all the athletes and officials visiting PyeongChang for the global tournament, but Iranian and North Korean athletes were initially denied the gifts.

Following "the insulting move" by South Korea's Samsung and its negative political and social effects at the global level, the director of the company in Iran should be summoned and explain about the issue, Montazeri said in an order released on Friday.

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Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned South Korean's ambassador to protest the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics organizers' move to exclude Iranian athletes from the list of competitors receiving smartphones because of what they have cited United Nations sanctions.

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 Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art.

Prior to the apology, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that Telecoms Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi was looking into the issue, and was considering whether to block imports of Samsung phones.

The ambassador was also told that Samsung's refusal to apologize for "such an unwise measure" would "seriously affect" Iran's trade ties with the South Korean company, the spokesperson added. No reason was given, but Internet access is strictly limited in the North.

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Samsung said the International Olympic Committee was responsible for distributing gifts at the Olympics and had no further comment.

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.

Although the organizers later backtracked, it sparked anger in Iran, where Samsung has a major commercial presence, and its athletes refused to accept the phones until there was a full apology.

North Korea, for its part, has refused to receive the smartphones.

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