Almost a full minute in, Hamedi held a 4-1 lead.
But just before that first minute expired, he connected on a high left kick to the head, sending Ganjzadeh to his back, unconscious.
Hamedi hopped into a quick skip and thumped his chest. Ganjzadeh seemed to scream as he went to the mat, and as the official began counting down, two medics ran over to treat him.
Ganjzadeh was motionless and medics placed an oxygen mask on his face before removing him on a stretcher. Hamedi, who initially seemed certain of victory — what would have been Saudi Arabia’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport — appeared apprehensive as officials conferred with each other.
Moments later, Hamedi was disqualified for a hansoku, a serious violation of the rules. The NBC television broadcast said he had unleashed an unchecked attack, following through on his strike as a mixed martial artist would, which is considered too dangerous by Olympic karate standards. Ganjzadeh, who was informed of the decision when he regained consciousness, was awarded the gold medal, and Hamedi was given silver.
“I’m happy about the gold medal, but I’m sad that I had to win it like this,” Ganjzadeh later told reporters.
Hamedi, who fell to his knees in tears after the decision, later held up his silver medal on the podium, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ganjzadeh. After a series of photos, they embraced and Ganjzadeh raised Hamedi’s hand in the air. Turkey’s Ugur Aktas and Ryutaro Araga of Japan took the bronze medals in the event.
“If you ask me if I agree or not, I disagree, of course, because I love the gold medal,” Hamedi said through an interpreter. “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.”