Sumo tournament canceled because of text message scandal

SUMO-AKEBONO-25 Japan’s spring sumo tournament was canceled this year because of allegations that 14 sumo wrestlers were fixing matches and arranging bribes via text message. This has never happened before. A few of the text messages negotiating fixing bouts leaked to the press–three wrestlers admitted to having sent and received them, the scandal snowballed, so the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association gave a tearful press conference (note: it is almost obligatory for a regretful head of anything to cry at these things) and called this “the darkest ever chapter in the long history of sumo.”

Sumo matches, especially among the lower ranks, are highly susceptible to fixing because of the way the pay scale works–you get paid nothing unless you reach the rank of juryo, at which point you suddenly make $12,000 a month. So the juryo wrestlers conspire among themselves to make sure they all get to maintain status and earn income. Makes sense.

The last time a tournament was canceled was over 60 years ago, in 1946, because the sumo stadium was damaged by World War 2.

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6 thoughts on “Sumo tournament canceled because of text message scandal

  1. I’m very disappointed by this, and these kinds of allegations have been made in the past, but the proof was not as easy to get. I don’t pay attention to juryo, as I like the battles in the top division (Go Harumafuji!) but the guys at the bottom of the top division sometimes return to juryo if they’ve had a hard time winning matches. What worries me, here, is that we may see accusation of fixing in the top division, which would be really disappointing. I’m sure there will be some shakeups. I hope that the scandal does not extend down to the stablemasters. I’m still downloading Hatsu basho from this year, and don’t want to look at rankings, but it looks like I’ll have a couple months before I’ll see any new sumo.
    Incidentally, there’s a very interesting section of Freakanomics that talks about sumo, rankings, and the statistics behind performance.
    Does anyone know of a way to get english language sumo broadcasts online? Does NHL have a subscription mechanism?

  2. Trait or Traitor
    Now there’s talk that the investigation might not conclude in time for the May basho either. Personally I’m tired of the ***** bowing and apologies. The jokers need to go and those that are serious need to tow the line, otherwise it is over. That means those that follow the rules, need to get rid of those that do not.
    I agree with one of the internal suggestions made though. They should have a sumo tournament, but not have the public present, Just JSA members and evaluate the performance of the rikishi. This isn’t a cure all, but it might rid the sport of some “junk”. This mess really needs to get sorted, either quickly, or slowly, but it must be done.
    If I was a rikishi, I wouldn’t care if the public was there, or not for one, or two basho, if I hadn’t done anything wrong. I’m there to perform in my sport, unless the whole point of the sport is only for spectators, then integrity has no place there, as it is only for entertainment.
    It is one of the few sports I enjoy watching and attending. As a fan, I hope they are able to resolve the issues effectively. If not…it was fun while it lasted.
    In a land where honor is a prized trait, the national sport now reflects the depths of allowing corruption to exist and slowly destroy it from within. The JSA can never resolve this problem on their own. It exists because many turn a blind eye. Honor is not an trait, when you are a traitor.
    —-
    *Ninjagin – I don’t know about online, but if your Cable/Satellite service offers NHK (TV Japan) you can subscribe and watch it live, or rebroadcasts the next day. I have Comcast and must switch to Spanish audio if I want to hear English. (Rumors are that NHK will no longer broadcast the tournaments)

  3. I’m going to Japan at the end of March and i was seriously about to get tickets for the final day of the March tournament. Pretty upset about this.

  4. *vagrant — Comcast does carry NHK, but it’s “not available in my area”. Ridiculous. The only way I have to catch the matches is to drag them off of BitTorrent. It’s very slow and takes me weeks to get a whole tournament. I would love to see NHK permit a subscription to an online archive of, say, the last couple tournaments. Don’t even need HD quality, really, just some easy mpeg downloads. I’d pay ten bucks a month for it, easy. As it is, now, my only option is to get Dish Network in addition to cable. My GF, who has DN, can’t get it because it would require a second dish (different satellite). +sigh+
    It was nice when ESPN used to air Sumo Digest. Granted, you didn’t get anything but the actual matches (no real commentary or analysis), and they would cover a whole tourney in a couple hours, but it was -=something=-.

  5. Wow, I feel for you. I would have thought they carried “TV Japan” for all markets.
    We all may be out of luck if NHK no longer carries the tournaments. If they did that, I would think another broadcaster would step in.
    Must be crazy where you live that you’d need an additional dish. A buddy uses DN and had TV Japan with the other stuff with one dish antenna.
    *gusss I was thinking of heading over March – May and attending some of the days at both locations. This pretty much kills that option. At least there’s still Kyoto in the springtime.

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