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Fans have stuck with scandal-hit sumo through thick and thin

19 1 6

As the clear, piercing sounds of clappers echoed throughout the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, four “man-in onrei” banners thanking the audience for a sold-out house were rolled off to hang above the suspended roof over the “dohyo” sumo ring.

I recently visited the arena to watch the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which I had heard had been attracting enormous crowds from the first day.

Since last year, the sumo world has been rocked by a scandal of violence involving a yokozuna and a controversy over the sport’s traditional ban on females from the ring. Surprisingly, however, the typhoon of criticism the sport has received has apparently not caused a mass exodus of fans.

A long line of sumo fans seeking walk-up tickets starts forming early in the morning every day. Within the arena, exciting bouts evoke........

© The Asahi Shimbun