• Kyodo News

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More than three-quarters of respondents in a nationwide survey said they believe match-fixing existed in sumo before the recent revelations that wrestlers allegedly rigged bouts using cell phone text messages.

In a nationwide telephone survey conducted Friday and Saturday, about 76 percent of respondents said they believe match-fixing was prevalent in the national sport even before the bout-rigging scandal came to light.

In stark contrast, a little less than 19 percent of those questioned said they do not believe match-fixing existed.

Almost 30 percent of respondents said bout-rigging is a necessary evil and unavoidable in some cases.

The survey highlights the gap between how sumo portrays itself and how the public perceives the sport.

When asked whether the Japan Sumo Association should be allowed to continue as a public entity, which assures it of government backing and special tax breaks, more than 62 percent of respondents said they would not be opposed to the body losing this status.

As for the JSA’s decision to call off next month’s Spring Grand Sumo Tournament and all regional tours this year, almost 70 percent said it was an appropriate response to the sport’s worst-ever crisis.

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