• Kyodo

  • SHARE

Egypt’s Osunaarashi, the first sumo wrestler from Africa to turn pro in Japan, became a tourism ambassador for his native country on Thursday, in a campaign to encourage Japanese to visit a destination avoided by many travelers following political upheaval.

“I want to contribute in various ways for the sake of Egypt,” the 24-year-old wrestler, whose real name is Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan, said at a press conference in Cairo.

He recalled a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during the latter’s visit to Japan earlier this year, saying the president had at that time invited him to expand his contributions beyond the world of sports.

The so-called “Arab Spring” democracy movement, which started in Tunisia and swept into Egypt in 2011, led to violent clashes in Cairo and the eventual ouster of 30-year ruler Hosni Mubarak. Fear of public disorder and terrorist attacks have drastically reduced the flow of travelers from Japan and elsewhere into the country, dealing a major blow to its vital tourist trade.

Osunaarashi’s current trip marks his first return to Egypt in about three years.

“Next time I come back to Egypt, I would like to make the trip together with a group of Japanese travelers,” he said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)