Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Don’t rush us!’ Sumo ducks decision on men-only rule



‘Don’t rush us!’ Sumo ducks decision on men-only rule

Mongolian sumo wrestler Hakuho throws opponent Goeido out of the ring in their bout on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka on November 26, 2017. AFP
Mongolian sumo wrestler Hakuho throws opponent Goeido out of the ring in their bout on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka on November 26, 2017. AFP

‘Don’t rush us!’ Sumo ducks decision on men-only rule

Japanese sumo officials opted on Saturday to postpone a decision on overturning the ancient sport’s “men-only” policy following allegations of deep-rooted sexism.

Plagued by scandal in recent years, sumo was plunged into further controversy earlier this month after a comedy of public relations errors by the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) that were almost universally slammed as sexist.

The JSA was forced to apologise after women who rushed to the aid of a local mayor who had collapsed during a speech at a regional event were repeatedly told to leave a sumo ring.

Just days after that incident triggered unwanted headlines, a female mayor from the western city of Takarazuka was barred from delivering a speech inside the ring.

The trouble-prone JSA was then further criticised after trying to prevent girls from participating in a children’s sumo event in Shizuoka prefecture, citing “safety concerns”.

In an attempt to arrest the latest public relations disaster to hit the sport, officials met on Saturday but failed to reach a decision on reversing their men-only rule.

“[This policy] has continued for hundreds of years,” sumo gym chief Oguruma told local media following the hour-long meeting.

“We can’t change it in an hour”

‘Difficult issue’

Sumo dates back some 2,000 years according to historians and retains many Shinto religious overtones.

Its dirt rings, known as dohyo, are viewed as sacred in the Japanese Shinto faith and women – considered to be ritually unclean – are not allowed to enter for fear of desecrating the hallowed soil.

However, after videos of the women offering medical help being shooed from the ring in Maizuru, northwest of Kyoto, went viral, the JSA has come under increased fire, prompting them to convene to discuss potential policy changes.

JSA director Toshio Takano called for more time to bring change to the male-dominated sport.

“We are talking about an extremely difficult issue,” he said. “Therefore we need to take our time over it.”

The closeted sumo world has been rocked by a string of damaging scandals in recent years, from allegations of bout-fixing to drugs arrests and violent bullying – the most serious case resulting in the death of a teenage wrestler in 2007.

Last year, grand champion Harumafuji was charged over a brutal assault on a rival wrestler while out drinking, ending his career.

However, sumo is not the only sport in Japan to come under fire for its exclusive policies.

The private club chosen to host golf at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was forced to lift its controversial ban on female membership last year after pressure from Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the International Olympic Committee.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Tottenham Hotspur to wear ISF Cambodia logo on jerseys in match against Sheffield United

    Last year, the Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) – an NGO providing education to underprivileged children in Cambodia – made global headlines with its “socially distanced” football initiative. This year, a world-class football club – Tottenham Hotspur FC – will wear special edition jerseys to show their support for ISF

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American