North Korea’s Olympic Committee has refused to give complimentary smartphones provided by South Korea’s Samsung to the country’s 31 athletes competing in the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, RFA has learned.Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., an official sponsor of the Olympics, provided 12,500 Galaxy 7s smartphones to those participating in the Games, including nearly 11,200 athletes from 206 nations and two independent teams, to carry during the opening ceremony on Aug. 5.
But officials from North Korea’s Olympic Committee did not provide the phones to the country’s athletes to carry as they entered Maracana Stadium during the opening ceremony, a source familiar with the athlete’s village told RFA’s Korean Service.
During an International Olympic Committee (IOC) press conference in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, an IOC spokesperson was asked where the phones that were intended for the North Korean athletes were.
After checking with people at Samsung, the spokesperson later told RFA’s Korean Service that a North Korean team manager had gone to the electronics giant’s office and had taken all the phones that were provided for his athletes.
The IOC press official speculated that the manager took the phones out of concern that the North Korean athletes would gain access to the Samsung exhibition where the company displayed South Korean electronics.
A public relations representative from Samsung who is working at the Olympics confirmed that a North Korean team manager took the smartphones.
He said representatives from large teams usually come to the office to collect products that sponsors have provide for the athletes, but athletes from small teams usually stop by to pick up the items themselves.
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