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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.
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.
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."
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.
Everybody hopes Sajad Ganjzadeh is OK. I'm not a #Karate expert so I dunno if Tareg Hamedi's DQ is fair.
But you took gold away from the man who delivered the most exciting moment of the #Olympics.
When you're trying to win fans & get attention for your sport, that's an issue.
— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) August 7, 2021
Tareg Hamedi deserves the karate gold medal. He was dominating Sajad Ganjzadeh in a clean performance, and threw a clean head kick that caused a knockout only because Ganjzadeh was lunging forward. If the rules say he lost, the rules are broken. #Olympics #Karate #Tokyo2020
— Adam Schuster (@Adam_Schuster) August 7, 2021
How was that deemed too forceful, he literally raised his leg for the stroke, he did not wind up or rotate his hips to generate power. The guy got caught coming in….Gold should have went to the KSA.
— Suar-easy (@EasySuar) August 8, 2021
How can you deem a kick too much in Karate.....Olympic gold medal karate match ruined after spectacular head-kick KO deemed too forceful. Come on #Olympics
— Kevin S (@bham4ever) August 8, 2021
Unfortunately rules are rules and in the Olympic form of Kumite you have to show 100% control of your punches and kicks and pull every single one of them. This is just as important as scoring points as seen with this penalty.
— PartTimeJedi (@JediPartTime) August 8, 2021
If you watch in slow motion the kick was parallel to the waist, not high. The opponent lowered himself when he got hit. This was a very bad call that needs to be appealed.
— David Miller (@Miller5821) August 8, 2021
What a joke, the Turkish referee was biased
And unfairly disqualified the Saudi player. pic.twitter.com/Ye6z1B7Y5Y
— Ghareeb (@Ghareeb88298278) August 7, 2021
Iranian Karate champion Sajad Ganjzadeh granted #OlympicGold after being out licked and knocked unconscious by Black upcoming Saudi Arabia star Tareg Hamedi at the iconic Budokan. Karate should be kicked out of Olympics #Karate #Tokio2020 #SaudiArabian #tareghamedi pic.twitter.com/gvXwxqicc1
— 𝕊𝕒𝕞𝕦𝕖𝕝 𝕆𝕦𝕘𝕒 (@Ougasam) August 8, 2021
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