Olympic judo referee gets death threat


Complied from Mainichi and wire reports

A New Zealand Olympic judo referee has fled his home after receiving angry e-mails - including one threatening death - from spectators concerning his controversial handling of an Olympic final involving a Japanese judoka, it has been learned. Craig Monaghan, who refereed in the gold medal match of the over-100-kilogram judo final in Sydney, left New Zealand with his family after the match, citing a deluge of threats directed at him. Monaghan angered Japanese spectators with a questionable ruling that eventually saw Frenchman David Douillet triumph over Shinichi Shinohara to win gold in the event.

After the bout, a stream of threatening and angry e-mails and letters directed at Monaghan were sent to the New Zealand Judo Federation. One of the messages contained a death threat. "I want to kill you," the message read. In other messages, senders suggested that the referee retire from the sport, while some said they had come to hate New Zealand because of the decision. Federation President Harry O'Rourke has laid a complaint with the Internet provider from which the e-mail death threat originated, but has not reported the matter to police, sources said. O'Rourke said threats following the match had caused Monaghan a great deal of stress, which had prompted him to take a holiday with his family. Although the International Judo Federation forbids commentary by referees on umpiring decisions, O'Rourke said the ruling against Shinohara was "completely above-board." He added that the "outpour of rage" over the decision was surprising.

O'Rourke said Japanese people, especially judo competitors, are renowned for their discipline. "But these ones seem to be bad losers who probably don't know much about judo," he said.

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