A female mayor's request to deliver a speech from inside a dohyō (sumo ring) was denied Friday in the wake of an incident earlier this week that brought the sport's rules on gender into the international spotlight.

Takarazuka Mayor Tomoko Nakagawa had asked the organizer of a Friday sumo exhibition in the Hyogo Prefecture city to let her deliver a speech from the ring, but the organizer said no after consulting with the Japan Sumo Association, officials in the municipal office and the local organizing committee said.

The organizing committee cited the long-standing sumo tradition banning women from entering the "sacred" ring, which is often criticized as gender discrimination. Critics say the tradition is based on Shinto and Buddhist beliefs that women are "unclean" because of menstrual blood.