The loss of Saudi Karateka in Olympic final match instigated attacks against the Turk referee in social media.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic games ended with one silver medal for Saudi Arabia. The kingdom won the medal in final days of the games in karate in a final match with an Iranian rival. The match, by the way, turned to one of the most controversial ones in these games.
The Iranian Karateka won the game in a condition that he was on the verge of a loss with 4-1 result. Tariq Hamdi, the Saudi Karateka was disqualified 2 minutes before the end of the match due to an uncontrolled hit. The medical team took the Iranian Karateka out of the field after he was fainted due the hard blow.
The Refereeing team, comprised of 5 referees decided that the Saudi Karateka’s blow was a clear example of “violent play.” The team received the consultation of two doctors before taking the controversial decision.
An appeal by the Saudi Karateka’s coaches didn’t work either. Saudi Arabia’s lone chance to take the first gold medal in Olympic games turned to ashes infuriating the people inside the country.
Ganjzadeh and Hamdi fought in men’s 75-kg karate final “Kumte” following wins over former rivals. The Iranian Karateka found out about his win only minutes later by doctors.
Saudi officials, along with activists and people, turned to social media to protest the decision they described as “unfair.” They mostly found the Iranian Karateka responsible for his open guard and failure to plan an effective defense.
The Karta rulings, however, says that the blows surpassing the human toleration are technical fouls and may lead to disqualification of the players. Saudi people, however, neglected the rulings attacking the social media accounts of the Turk middle referee of the match.
Online Hate Speech
Following the match, thousands of Saudi social media users flocked to the referee’s Instagram account to protest the decision. The Saudi people used offensive language against Ugur Kubas in Instagram direct message and comments.
The Saudi activists further enflamed the infuriation through politicizing the games. They believed that the Turk refereed made a racist decision against the black Saudi Karateka in favor of the Iranian rival. The use the hashtag #تركيا_وايران_تسرقان_ذهبيتنا (Turkey and Iran are stealing our gold) to further promote the idea of political bias.
Electronic flies and trolls with affiliations to Saudi officials also started activities in Twitter. They also made attempts to turn the sports event into a political activism. Using the same hashtag, they reinforced the idea that the referee team decided in favor of Iranian Karateka on purpose.
Following the string of insults, the Turk referee deactivated his social media accounts. He took to twitter to say that he followed the rules with a collective decision with other referees. “I will close my accounts in the media. I am the middle referee, and I am obligated to implement the rules, and as a result, two doctors and 5 referees decided, I followed the decision of the majority,” Kubas posted on Twitter.
The Saudi Karateka, however, did not talk about the referees and the disputed decision. He sufficed to talking about his ambition for a gold medal and expressing gratitude to his supporters en route. Of his tone in the twitter post, hardly can anyone find a discontent with the result.
The Saudi Karateka and his Iranian rival had a friendly confrontation following the match. Turning a peaceful sports event into an opportunity for political settlements is not effective in changing the reality of Tokyo2020.