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10 February 2018, 08:45 | Dale Webster
Pyeongchang organizing committee apologizes to Iran over gift ban
In the meantime, the Foreign Ministry summoned South Korea's ambassador to Tehran Kim Seung-Ho, asking explanation about the issue.
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.
The problem started on Wednesday, when Games organizers said Iranian and North Korean athletes would be refused the Galaxy Note 8 devices from sponsor Samsung, loaded with essential logistical and competition information.
Following "the insulting move" by South Korea's Samsung and its negative political and social effects at the worldwide level, the director of the company in Iran should be summoned and explain about the issue, Montazeri said in an order released on Friday.
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.
"If Samsung does not apologise for its unwise action, this will greatly affect Samsung's trade relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran", the state news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.
After the apology on Friday, Iranian Sports Minister Masoud Soltanifar indicated that Iran was satisfied.
IRNA reported Thursday that "an informed source" had said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would stop using his Samsung mobile if there was no apology.
Yonhap news agency said the North Koreans at the Games had refused the phones.
But the International Olympic Committee then made a decision to give the phones to the Iranians without any conditions.
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".
Also in a letter signed by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) Deputy Director General Pero Miro, the IOC expressed its "deepest regret for the unfortunate incident concerning the distribution of the phone to the Iranian athletes".
Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone and memory chip manufacturer, is a crucial part of South Korea's economy, with the group's turnover equivalent to a fifth of the national GDP.
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