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Turkey referee receives death threats after disqualifying Saudi athlete from Olympics

Turkish referee Uğur KOBAŞ in Tokyo [ugurkobas/Instagram]
Turkish referee Uğur KOBAŞ in Tokyo [ugurkobas/Instagram]

A Turkish referee has received death threats on social media by Saudi trolls after he disqualified a Saudi karateka during the men's final event at the Tokyo Olympics last week.

Saudi's Tareg Hamedi was up against Iran's Sajad Ganjzadeh in the men's over-75kg final and was at one point heading for victory, leading 4-1 before being disqualified over an illegal high-kick to his opponent's neck. In the Olympic version of karate, athletes are not supposed to follow through fully on their strikes.

Ugur Kobas was quoted by Middle East Eye on Tuesday as saying "they made me part of the fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I have nothing to do with it. I believe in sportsmanship and peace."

"I only followed the rules and there is nothing political about it," he added.

According to the report, Kobas received "hundreds of thousands of hostile messages" since the decision. He ended up deleting his Twitter account after his inbox was completely full. His Instagram inbox cannot receive any more messages.

READ: Outrage as Saudi Arabia judoka faces Israel opponent, then fails to score

"I received 100,000 threatening and insulting messages alone on my photos on Instagram. This is insane," he said. "They threatened me with death. That's okay. But then they started to attack my wife and my son, telling them that they would find all of us and kill us."

The bout which was beset with external political rivalries saw the unconscious Ganjzadeh winning the event and subsequently being awarded a Gold medal and Hamedi a Silver. Had Hamedi won, it would have been the kingdom's first ever in the Olympic Games. Turkey's Ugur Aktas and Japan's Ryutaro Araga won the bronze medals in the event.

After being named the winner, Ganjzadeh said: "I'm happy about the gold medal but I'm sad that I had to win it like this." After receiving their medals, the fighters embraced and Ganjzadeh raised Hamedi's hand in the air.

"If you ask me if I agree or not, I disagree, of course, because I love the gold medal," Hamedi said. "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."

READ: Algerian judoka receives a hero's welcome after refused to play Israel competitor

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Asia & AmericasEurope & RussiaIranJapanMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaTurkey
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