The North Korean government has banned its 31 Olympic athletes from accepting complimentary smartphone gifts being given out by South Korean electronics giant Samsung at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Samsung is an official sponsor of the summer Olympics and it announced in July that it planned to give the 11,200 athletes attending the Olympic Games a special commemorative "Olympic Games Edition" of the Galaxy S7 Edge, which is the handset manufacturer's latest phone.

However, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA), North Korea's Olympic Committee refused to give the phones to the North Korean athletes, and during the opening ceremony of the Rio Games on Friday 5 August, it was clearly visible that the North Korean Olympic contingent were the only athletes in the Maracana Stadium that didn't have the devices.

North Korean athletes at Rio 2016 Olympics
The North Korean Olympics Committee has apparently confiscated the free smartphones given out by Samsung to all athletes Reuters

During the International Olympic Committee (IOC) press conference on Wednesday 10 August, RFA asked the IOC where the smartphones for the North Korean athletes were, and, eventually, an IOC spokesperson confirmed that a manager from the North Korean Olympic Committee had picked up the handsets from Samsung's office, even though the devices did not make it into the athletes' hands.

Athlete Kim Song seemed to indicate this was the case by shaking her head when asked if she received a Samsung smartphone by the RFA while she left the stadium after beating Singapore in the women's table tennis quarterfinals.

There is no official reason why the North Korean athletes are being prevented from accepting Samsung's gifts, apart from the rivalries between the two countries, but South Korean athletes say that North Korean coaches often tend to confiscate gifts given to their athletes when they participate in international competitions.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Olympic Edition
The special commemorative Olympic Edition of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Samsung