October 04, 2023

Junna Tsukii doesn't hide disappointment over 'unacceptable' judges in SEA Games karate

Junna Tsukii doesn
One Sports/Belle Gregorio

There is already a brewing storm in the 32nd Southeast Asian [SEA] Games—less than 24 hours after it officially opened in spectacular, historic fashion.

This brewing storm is the controversial ending of the gold medal match in the women’s 50kg kumite event of karate, which ended in a draw between Fil-Japanese world champion Junna Tsukii and Malaysia’s C. Shahmalarani.

The tightly fought contest wound up in a 3-3 draw. However, three of the five judges voted Shahmalarani as the victor, resulting in her winning the gold medal and relegating Tsukii to a silver.

A visibly emotional Tsukii vehemently disagreed with the decision, which she slammed as "unacceptable" in an interview with One Sports’ Belle Gregorio immediately after the match.

“If she really beat me, of course, I will accept. We’re athletes,” Tsukii told Gregorio. “But she could not attack and I was more active than her. But the judges awarded her as the winner.”

Tsukii doubled down, saying she could not accept her silver medal because “karate cannot cheat.”

“I’m not happy with this. I did everything for this [winning the gold medal], and the judges were not fair. That’s the reason. I wanna bring back the medal for my country, but the judges were not fair.”

The 31-year-old karateka did not go up to the podium to accept her silver medal, ostensibly as a sign of protest.

Tsukii is a two-time SEA Games champion and had beaten Shahmalarani convincingly in their gold medal bout in the Southeast Asian Karate Federation Championships in Phnom Penh just this March.

(With reports from Belle Gregorio, One Sports)