Compliance and the Olympics

I’m a  big fan of the Winter Olympics. I’ve been spending many hours watching coverage of curling, snowboarding, cross-county skiing and the biathalon, so far.

A story about compliance at the Olympics caught my attention.

Samsung, the big South Korean company, made a limited edition of its Galaxy Note 8 for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games. It planned to deliver more than 4,000 units of the device to those involved in the PyeongChang Olympics, including the International Olympic Committee, the PyeongChang Organizing Committee, the Olympic athletes, and the Paralympic athletes.

One of the great celebration of the Koreans at the game is the inclusion of athletes from North Korea. Since you have read the news, you know that there are all kinds of sanctions against North Korea. You can also add in the four athletes from Iran who are competing and from a country subject to sanctions.

Word of the limitation reached the government of Iran and the South Korean ambassador was brought in. The Iranian prosecutor-general threatened to bring Samsung’s boss in Iran in for questioning. Little did I know, but Iran is apparently the biggest smartphone market in the Middle East., with an estimate that 48 million people in Iran own the devices.

The IOC intervened and gave Samsung the nod to allow the Iranian athletes to get the phones and bring them back to Iran.

Samsung also gave the North Koreans the phones. However, they must be returned to avoid the ban on shipping luxury goods to North Korea.

That market is substantially smaller. North Korea has about four million mobile-phone subscribers, which about one-sixth of the population. Those devices are lacking features, like an internet connection or the ability to call internationally.

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