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

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,