2020 Tokyo Olympics: Watch as Olympian Loses Gold Medal in Karate After Knockout Kick Deemed ‘Too Forceful’

by Matthew Memrick

2020 Tokyo Olympics competitor Tareg Hamedi lost his Olympics gold medal after officials determined that his knockout kick of Sajad Ganjzadeh was “too forceful.”

Established competitor Ganjzadeh of Iran faced rising Saudi star Hamedi in the final bout of karate’s Olympic debut. The Associated Press said the two competed in the men’s over-75 kilogram Kumite. In just minutes, Hamedi’s powerful kick turned from glorious gold medal finish into disqualification. 

Hamedi has the momentum to win in the opening minute before his powerful left-footed kick to Ganjzadeh’s head/upper body. The Iranian fell to the mat and was unconscious. Medics came, put an oxygen mask on him, and removed him with a stretcher.

The 23-year-old Hamedi did a celebratory hop and screamed after he thought he won the first gold medal in Saudi Arabia’s entire Olympic history.

Olympian Loses Gold Medal For Powerful Kick

But the sport’s dynamic finish and gold medal vanished in thin air. Ultimately, karate’s fight to get back into the Olympic Games did not get the fantastic finish either. 

The judges conferred and awarded Ganjzadeh the gold medal. They said Hamedi committed a severe violation of the rules, or hansoku. The officials did not comment publicly about their decision. Technically, karate competitors are not supposed to follow through on their strikes in the Olympics. Olympics officials say these eye-catching, high-powered strikes are too dangerous for karate.

So, instead of making history, a teary-eyed Hamedi reportedly left the mat. He composed himself and responded to questions about the kick.

“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 objections. I think I played well. That’s all I can say.”

On the other hand, Ganjzadeh learned he was an Olympics champion after waking up backstage. He returned to accept his gold medal.

“I regret that the final match had to happen like this,” Ganjzadeh said.

Still, Hamedi’s silver medal was significant. Saudi Arabia scored only its second silver medal of the games thanks to Hamedi. Later, the two men hugged and celebrated together on the Olympics medal podium. 

Fans Weigh In On Tokyo 2020 Olympics Finish

The referee’s decision still shocked many.

“I will never be able to take this sport seriously again,” YouTube commenter John Gorman posted. “(Ganjzadeh) ducked in to try to deliver a body punch and got caught with a kick to the head. His opponent gets disqualified because of his mistake, and his mistake wins him gold….. what a joke.”

Damon Wong agreed with Gorman’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics observation.

“Yeah, a good portion of that KO power was due to his opponent moving his head into that kick,” Wong said. “Even with the stupid rule of kicking too hard, it should not have been ruled it was intentionally a hard kick…. The world knows who really won.