Saudi Arabia karate star Tareg Hamedi has been rewarded for his silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics with a cash reward of 5 million riyals ($1,333,328).
Hamedi, 23, was controversially disqualified from his +75kg Kumite final on Saturday after a head-kick rendered his Iranian opponent Sajad Ganjzadeh unconscious. He was leading 4-1 before the bout came to an abrupt end with Ganjzadeh only learning he had won the gold medal from medical staff attending to him.
Many Saudis took to social media to dispute the decision, saying in their eyes Hamedi was the true Olympic champion.
A picture of Minister of Sports and President of the Saudi Olympic Committee, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, kissing Hamedi’s forehead to celebrate his silver medal success and is currently trending on social media.
“Because he is the hero in the eyes of all of us ... Our Olympic champion Tareq Hamdi will be honored with the gold medal award [5 million riyals] for his excellence, creativity and honorable representation of the homeland in front of the stars The world.. in Tokyo 2020, you deserve it, hero, and the future is in front of you,” said Prince Abdulaziz tweeted.
Saudis celebrated the generous token of appreciation on social media, praising Hamedi and the Saudi sports ministry.
“This is a symbol of love and appreciation for sports and brotherhood. Supporting each other is what unites Saudis across the globe. In our eyes, he is our gold, and all the participants are our heroes,” Samar Nahdi, a Saudi athlete told The National.
Hamedi, only the second Saudi athlete to win an Olympic medal, dedicated his medal to his country and its leadership.
“I dedicate this achievement to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, his faithful Crown Prince, His Highness the Minister of Sports, the Vice President of the Olympic Committee, the President of the Saudi Karate Federation and all the Saudi people,” he said.