Women ordered off stage at sumo contest after trying to help stricken mayor

The first-aiders were told to leave the sacred dohyo ring in Japan as they operated to help stroke victim

Women who rushed to the aid of a man suffering a stroke while devoting a speech at a sumo event in Japan were ordered off the created ring due to rules banning females from the sacred space.

The 66 -year-old mayor of Maizuru city, Ryozo Tatami, collapsed on the dohyo sumo ring in Kyoto on Wednesday. The ring is traditionally regarded as a sacred place in the ancient sport and purified with rites by shinto clergymen before sumo bouts.

Women are banned from participating in sumo tournaments or ceremonies, as well as touching or stepping on to the ring, because it is seen as defiling its purity.

A number of women operated on to the ring to give emergency treatment, but the sumo judge at the event repeatedly called over the PA system for them to step off the arena. Two of the women could be seen starting to dismount, but then returning to help, in a video broadcast on multiple television networks.

The actions of the judge described criticism from television commentators and on social media in Japan.

Nobuyoshi Hokutoumi, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association( JSA) and a former grand champ, subsequently apologised for the incident and expressed his appreciation for the women’s assistance.

” In a situation that could have been life-threatening it was an inappropriate answer. We offer a sincere apology ,” told Hokutoumi, who is also known as Hakkaku, the name of the sumo stable he heads.

The mayor suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage and was in a stable condition in hospital, according to city officials.

This is not the first time that sumo’s forbidding on females has caused controversy. Fusae Ohta, the female governor of Osaka from 2000 to 2008, was forced to present the governor’s prize to the champ of the annual Osaka tournament on a walkway next to the ring. The JSA rejected her repeated requests to be allowed to enter the ring, claiming it would dishonour sumo’s ancient traditions.

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