Sexist sumo? Ref orders female EMS out of sacred ring after collapse

Posted April 06, 2018

Nobuyoshi Hokutoumi, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) and a former grand champion, later apologised for the incident and expressed his appreciation for the women's help.

The 66-year-old mayor of Maizuru city, Ryozo Tatami, collapsed on the dohyo sumo ring in Kyoto on Wednesday.

But a referee repeatedly told them "Ladies, please get out of the ring", according to the translation provided by Japanese broadcaster NHK-the message was heard loud and clear across the gym's public speaker system.

Ryozo Tatami, mayor of Japanese city Maizuru, collapsed yesterday while making a speech in a sumo ring in Kyoto, TIME reports.

"The referee was upset and made the announcement, but it was an inappropriate response because the situation could have been life-threatening", Hakkaku said in the statement. His condition is stable and not life-threatening, one of his secretaries told The Japan Times on Thursday morning. "I deeply apologize", Hakkaku said in a statement quoted in Reuters, adding he was deeply grateful to the women who provided first-aid response. Two women, apparently medical experts, rushed in and started performing first aid as several male sumo officials surrounding the mayor looked on.

In February, a sumo wrestler was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, and last month, Egyptian sumo wrestler Osunaarashi was arrested for allegedly driving without a licence when he got into a auto accident in central Japan. The practice was also criticized on social media.

The association had sparked controversy twice by barring female officials from entering the ring during award ceremonies. Critics say the rule banning women stems from traditional Shinto and Buddhist beliefs that women are "impure" because of menstrual blood.

Mayumi Moriyama, then the head of the labor ministry's bureau dealing with the welfare of children and women, lodged a protest alleging discrimination. The incident can be seen in this video; the voice on the recording is a match judge telling the women over and over again to leave the ring. The request was rejected.