Uproar as unconscious karate fighter awarded gold medal at Olympics

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·Sports Editor
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Sajad Ganjzadeh, pictured here being knocked out in the karate gold medal match.
Sajad Ganjzadeh was awarded the gold medal despite being knocked out. Image: Getty

There were brutal and controversial scenes on the final day of the Tokyo Olympics after the men's karate gold medal match ended with a massive KO.

The final bout of karate's historic debut in Tokyo ended in uproar after Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia knocked out Sajad Ganjzadeh with a high kick to the neck that saw him disqualified and his motionless Iranian opponent awarded the gold medal.

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Hamedi looked dominant in the opening stages having scored a three-point "ippon" in the ninth second.

He was leading 4-1 before the bout came to an abrupt end.

Hamedi's final kick sent Ganjzadeh crashing to the tatami and the Saudi into celebration mode.

However the mood in the Nippon Budokan arena immediately turned as medics rushed to Ganjzadeh's side, placing an oxygen mask on the Iranian and removing him on a stretcher.

After a few minutes of discussion among the officials on the sidelines, the referee disqualified Hamedi and awarded the match to Ganjzadeh.

Hamedi was disqualified for an unchecked attack, which is not allowed under karate's Olympic rules.

Competitors aren't allowed to fully follow through on their blows in Olympic competition, unlike professional fighting which rewards violent knockouts.

Ganjzadeh returned later for the medal ceremony, walking normally. 

Both he and Hamedi were expressionless as they stepped up to the podium and collected their medals.

However they appeared to harbour no hard feelings towards each other as they hugged and posed for photographs together.

Tareg Hamedi and Sajad Ganjzadeh, pictured here with their medals after the karate gold medal match.
Tareg Hamedi (L) and Sajad Ganjzadeh (second from left) pose with their medals after the karate gold medal match. (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Sajad Ganjzadeh learned of gold medal after regaining consciousness

Ganjzadeh later told reporters that he learned about his gold medal after regaining consciousness in a medical room.

"The last thing I remember was that I was behind by scores, and then that incident happened and I don't remember much after that," Ganjzadeh said. 

"And what I remember was that in the medical room I woke up and I heard from the coach that I won the match. 

"I'm very happy that I achieved this gold medal but I'm sad that it had to happen like this."

Sajad Ganjzadeh, pictured here being taken away on a stretcher.
Sajad Ganjzadeh was taken away on a stretcher. Image: Getty

Hamedi took the loss in his stride, saying he was unhappy with the judge's decision but satisfied with how he fought.

“If you ask me if I agree or not, I disagree, of course, because I love the gold medal,” Hamedi said through a translator. 

“But I am satisfied with the level of performance I gave, and I accept their decision. 

"I don’t have any objection. I think I played well. That’s all I can say.”

Saudi Arabia's sports minister said the country will still award Hamedi the 5 million riyas (AU$1.8 million) prize for winning a gold medal, despite his disqualification.

“Because he is the hero in the eyes of all of us, our Olympic champion Tarek Hamedi will be honoured with the gold medal award (5 million riyals) for his excellence, creativity, and honourable representation of the country in front of world stars in Tokyo 2020,” Prince Abdul Aziz said.

“You deserve it, hero, and the future is for you, God willing.”

The controversial finish sparked uproar on social media.

with AAP

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