S. Korean Envoy Summoned over Smartphone Ban for Iranian Athletes

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Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned South Korean’s ambassador to protest the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics organizers’ “immoral” move to exclude Iranian athletes from the list of competitors receiving smartphones because of what they have cited UN sanctions, a spokesman said.

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.

While the games sponsor Samsung Electronics has donated 4,000 “Olympic edition” handsets of its flagship Galaxy Note 8 device to be distributed among athletes and IOC officials free of charge, a Pyeongchang organizing committee spokeswoman told AFP that “North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing UN sanctions” against the two countries.

Qassemi said the South Korean envoy was notified of Iran’s strong protest at such an “immoral behavior that runs counter to the prevailing spirit in the Olympic games” which he said is founded on inclusion of all athletes irrespective of race, color, religion or political issues.

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.

The envoy has assured Iran of frequent contacts with South Korea’s foreign ministry and government to pursue the case, Qassemi added, quoting the ambassador as saying that South Korean government authorities and Samsung officials have denied any involvement in handing out the smartphones.

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