Yokozuna Hakuho apologized Wednesday for the bout-rigging scandal sumo currently finds itself mired in but claims he himself has never been involved in prearranging the outcome of matches.
“On behalf of all wrestlers, I would like to sincerely apologize to sumo lovers nationwide,” Hakuho, commenting for the first time on the scandal, told reporters at his Miyagino stable in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.
Asked if he had ever seen or heard of match-fixing or been involved in the practice, the Mongolian grand champion replied, “Obviously the only thing I can say is no, isn’t it?”
Hakuho was scheduled to give a press conference Sunday, the same day the Japan Sumo Association canceled next month’s Spring Grand Sumo Tournament over the scandal, but scrubbed his appearance due to sickness.
“Put simply, it’s a shame (about the cancellation of the spring meet),” said Hakuho.
“Everyone should tighten up the wrestlers association and I will do my best,” said the lone yokozuna. “I’ll keep working hard so I can wrestle well in front of everyone again.”
A special panel investigating the match-fixing scandal launched a probe Tuesday targeting wrestlers in the top two divisions as it seeks to uncover more answers in the biggest crisis to hit the national sport.
Estonian ozeki Baruto, who is among four holding sumo’s second-highest rank, was one of the high-profile wrestlers questioned by the panel.
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