A pair of women who tried to save a man’s life inside a sumo ring were ordered to leave the platform because they were deemed ritually “unclean.”
The incident took place at a sumo event in Kyoto, Japan, on April 4.
The women, both medical experts, were responding to 66-year-old Ryozo Tatami, mayor of Maizuru city, who collapsed while delivering a speech.
But as they came to his aid, the referee intervened, saying, “Ladies, please get off the ring. Only gentlemen go up.”
Nonetheless, it is understood that they were able to help with immediate intervention. In a video, one can be seen performing chest compressions.
The ring, or “dohyo” in Japanese, is considered to be sacred in sumo wrestling. In theory, women are not supposed to enter it, a tradition seen in contemporary Japan as discriminatory.
When the female experts left, salt was thrown into the ring to repurify it.
Yurika Mita, a newscaster on Fuji Television Network, commented:
“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. Without the women’s effort, the life of one person might have been lost.”
Taro Arai, a sumo journalist, told Reuters that there had been times when little girls got in the ring during fan events. That means women, technically, have already been approved on the ring.
“I think it is all right for women to get on the ring when there is a reason to do so. There is no historical ground or reason at all why they cannot,” Arai said.
Tatami, who suffered a stroke — a subarachnoid hemorrhage — was rushed to a hospital and underwent surgery. He has since been in stable condition, The Japan Times reported.
A Maizuru spokesperson told CNN:
“We really appreciate the women who provided the first aid. We don’t know who they were, but would like to thank them directly.”
The referee’s actions sparked outrage in Japanese social media, with many condemning his decision to put tradition over someone’s life.
— 日本相撲協会公式 (@sumokyokai) April 5, 2018
Nobuyoshi Hokutoumi, chairman of the Japan Sumo Association (JSA), apologized for the referee’s actions.
“In a situation that could have been life-threatening it was an inappropriate response. I am deeply sorry.”
Check out the scene below:
Images via YouTube / とろんぼーん