Olympics committee apologies to Iran

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The order came as Samsung, in a statement on Friday, rejected its involvement in the process to ban Iranian athletes from receiving its smartphones, saying that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is responsible.

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.

Iranian athletes at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games will receive Samsung mobile phones, organizers said, after Iran summoned South Korea's ambassador over reports its athletes would not get the gifts.

Reports of the snub have resulted in the South Korean ambassador to Tehran being summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry.

Games organizers POCOG earlier said: "A letter was today sent from POCOG President Mr Lee Hee-beom.to apologize for the misunderstanding regarding the distribution of mobile phones to the Iranian athletes".

But athletes from Iran and North Korea were reportedly excluded due to U.N. sanctions against the two countries over their nuclear programmes. It wasn't clear how the IOC would ensure compliance with the request.

IRNA reported that Telecoms Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi was looking into the issue, and was considering whether to block imports of Samsung phones.

Although they backtracked the following day, the incident caused a storm in Iran where Samsung has a major presence.

"Regarding Iran, we can confirm that all participants will be able to keep the phones".

The Galaxy Note 8 retails for around $920 and so could fall foul of UN measures banning supplies of luxury goods to the North.

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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.