The Japan Sumo Association says it will consider outside opinions from experts and the public over its much criticised policy of banning women from entering the sumo ring.
The association held an extraordinary meeting of its board on Saturday.
It did not reach a decision regarding the ban on women but did clarify that women can enter the ring in times of an ’emergency’ as an exception, Kyodo News agency reported.
The association came under fire in early April when it ordered female first responders to leave the ring as they attempted to revive an official who collapsed at an event in northern Kyoto.
The Japan Sumo Association came under fire in early April when it ordered female first responders to leave the ring as they attempted to revive an official who collapsed (pictured)
Ryozo Tatami, the 67-year-old mayor of the city of Maizuru, collapsed during a ring-top speech.
Two women, apparently medical experts, rushed in and started performing first aid as several male sumo officials surrounding the mayor looked on.
When two more women entered the ring trying to join the effort, a sumo official demanded that the women get out of the ring.
‘Ladies, please get off the ring,’ a sumo referee said, determinedly. ‘Only gentlemen go up.’
Sumo’s male-only tradition has raised controversy for decades, with even top women politicians barred from honoring winners in the ring
Footage posted on social media triggered outrage, with many criticising sumo officials and saying they were choosing tradition over life.
The mayor, a man, was then taken to a hospital and survived what was diagnosed a stroke.
Amid worldwide attention, the head of the Japan Sumo Association apologised, saying the official at the Kyoto event made an ‘inappropriate response.’
In a statement, sumo chief Nobuyoshi Hakkaku said the announcement was made by an official who panicked after seeing the women in the ring, but never touched on the divisive tradition.
‘It was an inappropriate response in a life-threatening situation,’ Hakkaku said.
The footage posted on YouTube was shown on major Japanese networks and other media.
Tomoko Nakagawa, mayor of Takarazuka City, delivers a speech outside a sumo ring at a sumo exhibition in Takarazuka, Japan. She protested sumo’s male-only tradition in her speech she was forced to make outside of the ring – unlike her male counterparts who go inside
Sumo’s male-only tradition has raised controversy for decades, with even top women politicians barred from honoring winners in the ring. Pictured, a Shinto ceremony is held to pray for the safety of sumo wrestlers
‘Of course it is important to protect tradition, but the way it excludes women perhaps is out of step with the times, and that’s how I feel as a woman,’ said Yurika Mita, a newscaster on a Fuji Television Network talk show.
‘Without the women’s effort, the life of one person might have been lost.’
Sumo’s male-only tradition has raised controversy for decades, with even top women politicians barred from honoring winners in the ring.
The sumo ring, or dohyo, is considered sacred in the male-only sport.
Women are banned from entering it because they are seen as ‘ritually unclean.’