Today is the first day of the 2018 winter Olympics, taking place in South Korea. But even before the opening ceremony began, tensions rose between host South Korea and North Korea and Iran.
South Korea offered all participants a selection of items including a Samsung Galaxy Note8 except the teams from North Korea and Iran. This provoked anger from Iran especially as they summoned the Seoul envoy in Tehran to explain.
According to a spokesperson for the PyeongChang committee “North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing UN sanctions”. The sanction on luxury goods is in effect for North Korea and the committee worried that the $1,000 device would qualify.
Despite the nuclear sanctions being lifted against Iran, some countries are still wary of trading with the country in case they are accused of violating the sanctions and facing reprisals.
The news did not come as a surprise to the North Korean team as a similar situation occurred in the Rio games. But many people in Iran were shocked as Samsung is a major name in their smartphone market. In the wake of the news, #BanSamsung was trending throughout the country.
While #samsung is selling millions of phones in Iran, they refused to give gifts to Iranian Athletes in #WinterOlympics2018 with the excuse of UN sanctions.
This is shameful and disrespectful to Iranian Athletes.#BanSamsung
— فرید سبحانی (@faridsob) February 7, 2018
One of Iran’s ministers called it “an insult to our athletes, who are representative of the great, civilised Iranian people”. The Foreign Minister said that if the decision was not reversed, he would give up his own Samsung phone and lead a boycott. Within hours, the decision was made to give all athletes the phone however the North Koreans were asked to return them after the games were over.
The Iranian delegates accepted the decision but the North Koreans refused.