Sumo association apologises after female medics spark sexist row

Nichole Vega
April 6, 2018

The referee's announcement, aired through loud speakers at the gymnasium, rekindled public criticism and prompted Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku to later issue a statement of apology.

The 66-year-old Maizuru city mayor Ryozo Tatami was giving a speech in the dohyō (sumo ring) when he suddenly collapsed to the ground.

Women are banned from participating in sumo tournaments or ceremonies, as well as touching or stepping on to the ring, because it is seen as defiling its purity. "It was an inappropriate response in the life-threatening situation".

"Things are changing for women in Japan, but it feels like one hand gives and the other takes away".

Many have criticised the sumo tradition via social media, including user @komichi2, who lambasted the association on Twitter for "viewing formal tradition as being more important than life rescue".

In a statement, Hakkaku said the announcement was made by an official who panicked after seeing the women in the ring, but did not mention the age-old tradition.

The incident, which was widely reported in Japanese media, has stoked a gender discrimination row and highlighted the role of women in a society that is trying to keep up with the times while clinging to its deeply traditional roots.

In 2003, the female governor of Osaka Fusae Ohta was barred from entering the ring and was forced to present governor's prize on a walkway next to the ring. Several women stepped up into the ring and performed first aid including cardiac massage until an ambulance crew arrived.

The incident occurred at a gym in the Kyoto Preferecture hosting a Japan Sumo Association event on Wednesday.

Several women also entered the ring to provide assistance, but were repeatedly told to leave the ring.

Sumo traces its origins back 2,000 years to a time when it was an integral part of Shintoism. But the association rejected her entry to the ring in the final round at the Kuramae Kokugikan, sumo's former home arena in Taito Ward, Tokyo.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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