No free smartphones for North Korean and Iran Olympians

File: Unlike their competitors, North Korean and Iranian athletes will not receive free smartphones at the Winter Olympics. Photo: Reuters

SEUL, South Korea - North Korean and Iranian athletes at the Winter Olympics will not receive high-end smartphones being handed out to their fellow competitors because of UN sanctions, organisers said on Wednesday.

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.

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But a Pyeongchang organising committee spokeswoman told AFP: "North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing UN sanctions" against the two countries.

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.

North Korea has sent 22 athletes to the Olympics. Only 10 of them will compete for their country at the Games, with another 12 on the roster of a unified Korean women's ice hockey team.

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The North's attendance has eased tensions over its nuclear threats and triggered a rapid rapprochement on the divided Korean peninsula.

But critics say the North is taking advantage of the Pyeongchang Games in a diplomatic drive to weaken sanctions imposed on it over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

AFP

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