RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Two Mongolian wrestling coaches stripped off their clothing to protest the result of a bronze medal match, a bizarre turn in a day where officiating was highly criticized.
The scene began after Uzbekisatn’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov appeared to have lost to Mandakhnaran Ganzorig 7-6 at 65 kilograms on Sunday.
Uzbekistan challenged the scoring, believing that the Mongolian was fleeing instead of fighting because he was running around in celebration with less than 10 seconds left.
Navruzov – whose quarterfinal match resulted in the dismissal of all three officials involved after a questionable late call – won his challenge and the match on criteria.
Ganzorig, who had already started celebrating, fell to his knees in disappointment.
The Mongolian coaches went much further.
Byambarenchin Bayaraa took his shoes and shirt off and threw them to the mat in disgust in front of the officials.
Tsenrenbataar Tsostbayar stripped all the way down to his blue briefs. The Brazilian crowd started chanting “Mongolia! Mongolia!”
“This was a protest. There was a problem with the refereeing,” Bayaraa said. “Three million people in Mongolian waited for this bronze medal and now we have no medal.”
It was the second controversial call of the day involving one of Navruzov’s matches. Wrestling’s international federation removed all three officials from competition after Navruzov’s quarterfinal.
United World Wrestling said that Tong-Kun Chung of South Korea, Temo Kazarashvili of Georgia and Russia’s Sergei Novakoskiy, who oversaw the match between Puerto Rico’s Franklin Gomez and Navruzov, also face further investigation and possible sanctions.
Gomez had tied the match at 5-5 and held the lead based on criteria.
Gomez went for a takedown of Navruzov with what appeared to be a scoring move before Navruzov grabbed Gomez and exposed him to the mat.
It appeared the action could have resulted in two points for Gomez or even two points for each wrestler.
Instead, the officials gave two points to Navruzov and none to Gomez – sparking outrage from fans after the replay was shown.
After a failed challenge, Gomez lost 8-5.
The incident was the talk of the tournament – before the Mongolians, of course.
“The referees were not good. They only supported the Uzbek,” Bayaraa said.
The appearance of any officiating impropriety could do harm to a sport that is just three years removed from being kicked off and later reinstated onto the Olympic program.
But UWW president Nenad Lalovic defended the officiating during the Olympics in an interview with The Associated Press before the incident with Mongolia.
“We had for the whole tournament, maybe hundreds of matches and one or two situations were made doubtful, I would say. I think the situation is much better than we had before. Much, much better. Of course, we need time to cure all our diseases,” Lalovic said.
As for the matches themselves, American wrestler Kyle Snyder won gold to become the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in U.S. history. The 20-year-old Snyder beat Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijan 2-1 for gold at 97 kilograms during the men’s freestyle tournament on Sunday.
Russian Soslan Ramonov won the gold medal at 65 kilograms, thumping Azerbaijan’s Toghrul Asgarov 11-0 in just 2:05