Sumo wrestling is so adamant that women shouldn’t be allowed in the ring that the rule even applies to paramedic.
Women were asked to leave a sumo ring in Japan even as they rushed to provide assistance to a man who had collapsed during a speech.
Then 66-year-old mayor of Maizuru city, Ryozo Tatami, had a stroke while on the dohyo sumo ring in Kyoto, a place steeped in tradition and considered sacred in the world of sumo wrestling. Sumo rings are purified with rituals performed by Shinto priests before matches, emphasizing their significance in the sport.
This sacred aura extends to the prohibition of women from participating in sumo tournaments, ceremonies, or even stepping onto the ring. Any interaction by women is viewed as defiling the ring’s purity.
Despite the life-threatening situation, women who were part of the first-aid team were repeatedly asked to exit the arena by the sumo judge over the PA system. The judge’s actions were met with criticism from television commentators and on social media in Japan.
Nobuyoshi Hokutoumi, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (JSA), and a former grand champion, later issued an apology, acknowledging the inappropriate response. The women’s efforts in providing emergency treatment were appreciated, albeit after the incident.
The mayor, who had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, was reported to be in stable condition in the hospital, as stated by city officials.
Notably, this incident was not the first time that sumo’s gender-specific traditions sparked controversy. Fusae Ohta, the female governor of Osaka from 2000 to 2008, was compelled to present the governor’s prize to the champion of the annual Osaka tournament on a walkway adjacent to the ring.
Her repeated requests to enter the ring were denied by the JSA, which cited the preservation of sumo’s ancient traditions as the reason for its stance.