National / Social Issues

Girls barred from sumo event as JSA doubles down on gender exclusion

Kyodo

The organizer of a spring sumo tour on Thursday said the sport’s governing body requested that girls be excluded from an event in which school-aged children joined wrestlers in the dohyō (ring).

An official of the Japan Sumo Association in charge of the tour in Shizuoka called the organizer on April 4 and asked that girls be barred from taking part in last Sunday’s event, according to the organizer.

Earlier this month, the sumo body drew widespread criticism and worldwide attention after a referee demanded that women — including one nurse — leave a sumo ring while they were providing emergency treatment to a mayor who had collapsed after suffering a stroke while giving a speech.

The sumo ring is regarded as sacred and tradition dictates that women cannot enter.

The official did not give any reason for the decision, despite girls having participated in events related to the Fujisan Shizuoka tour since 2013.

Approximately five girls — members of sumo clubs in the cities of Shizuoka and Yaizu — were planning to participate in this year’s event.

According to the JSA, it decided last month to only allow male children to take part during a review of the tour plan.

“The decision was made in consideration of the safety (of the girls), as we have received opinions from parents and organizers claiming they have been frequently injured,” a sumo association official said.

Tomohiro Nakajima, 43, who is involved with the Yaizu sumo club, said it was regrettable that the girls were banned, since children of both genders have been training alongside each other in the club for some time.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5