Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Japan Sumo Association must go

It was announced yesterday by the JSA that the March bashyo in Osaka has been cancelled as investigations into match-rigging continue.  This is the first time that a sumo bashyo has been cancelled since 1946.

As for the investigations themselves, the JSA has established 'an investigative panel' whose job it is to thoroughly cover up probe the match-fixing.

The only concrete action performed by the investigative panel so far?  They sent out a survey to active rikishi and stable masters asking if they were involved in match-rigging.  Well, that's bound to work!  Talk about a no-prisoners attitude!  Match-riggers will be quivering in their boots, wondering how on Earth they can continue to elude the JSA's iron-willed determination to pursue justice at all costs!

Meanwhile the sad degrading affair of the mobile phones continues.  Police are attempting to get mobiles from the 14 wrestlers involved in this affair, and say that retrieval of deleted messages will take 1-2 months.  However, so far, none of wrestlers have complied with requests to turn over their phones.  Apparently, some wrestlers have bought new phones and destroyed their old ones.  Can you believe it?  One said that he had dropped his in water so he bought another one.  Another claimed that "My wife stepped on it."

I am not making this up.

This is a real danger here, a real probability that sumo may be allowed to escape with as little loss of faith as possible.  The Machiavellian beauracrats of the JSA may be prepared to sacrifice the long-term future of the sport for the protection of their short-term vested interests.  Many suspect that officials may merely make cosmetic attempts at cleaning up the sport, such as firing some of those 14 wrestlers and not probing into the deeply dark desperate and disturbing underbelly of sumo.

The truth is that the inaction of the JSA demonstrates that the sport is rotten from the top down.  What needs to be done is that every mobile phone and bank book belonging to every sumo rikishi be confiscated and investigated.  Management and organisation of sumo should be turned over to an outside agency.

The real tragedy of this scandal is that it reflects poorly on Japan and the damage is almost impossible to undo.

Sumo: In for a rough landing

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