Egyptian sumo wrestler Osunaarashi told officials of the ancient sport’s governing body late Sunday night he did not drive the car that caused a minor traffic accident in central Japan earlier this month, the officials said.
Osunaarashi, who competes in sumo’s second tier, told Japan Sumo Association officials it was his wife who was driving the car in Nagano Prefecture, but he moved to the driver’s seat after it collided with another car to protect the expectant mother.
In a fresh blow to sumo, which is reeling from a series of scandals, investigative sources said earlier Sunday Osunaarashi caused a traffic accident and is also suspected of driving without a valid license.
The JSA prohibits sumo wrestlers from driving following past traffic accidents.
The association announced late Sunday night that Osunaarashi will withdraw from the ongoing New Year Grand Sumo Tournament from Monday, adding the wrestler had not reported the accident to the association.
The 25-year-old Osunaarashi is the first African-born sumo wrestler.
The Otake stable wrestler made his elite makuuchi division debut in 2013 and reached No. 1 maegashira, the sport’s fifth-highest rank, in 2015.
Sumo has been rocked by several scandals in recent months, including an assault that led to the retirement of yokozuna Harumafuji in November. In January, the sport’s senior referee announced he would resign after he was found to have sexually harassed a teenage referee.