Report: North Korean athletes not seen with Samsung smartphones

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 9 (UPI) — North Korean athletes at the Rio Olympic Games may have not received the free Samsung smartphones distributed to all the teams prior to the opening ceremony.

A source at the Summer Games told Radio Free Asia that North Korea’s Olympics committee received the phones from South Korean company Samsung, a corporate sponsor of the Olympics, but did not distribute them to their athletes.

Samsung reportedly distributed 12,500 Galaxy 7 smartphones to Olympic athletes. The phones were circulated prior to the opening ceremony so athletes could be seen carrying them as they entered Maracana stadium.

None of the North Korean athletes were seen carrying the phones.

The source said in past sporting events when South Korean athletes interacted with their North Korean counterparts, North Korean supervisors would often “seize” gifts from the South Koreans.

But whether the North Korean athletes received the phones then refused to be seen with them in public, or whether they never received the phones in the first place is yet to be confirmed, South Korean news service Newsis reported.

North Korea won its first medal when weightlifter Om Yun Chol won the silver in the men’s 56-kg competition.

Choe Ryong Hae, one of North Korea’s most powerful politicians, was in attendance at the match, but reportedly walked out after results confirmed Om did not win the top prize.

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