'Unclean' Women Banned by Sumo Association

ByABC News
March 6, 2001, 5:51 AM

T O K Y O, March 6 -- Custodians of Japans nationalsport have turned down a request by the countrys first femalegovernor to enter the male-dominated sumo ring to present atournament trophy, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday.

Last month, Fusae Ota, governor of the western city of Osaka,called on the Japan Sumo Association to allow her to present thetrophy to the winner of this months Osaka Tournament.

But Kyodo reported the association had decided to turn downthe request, saying its chairman would meet with Ota on Wednesdayto explain the move.

Japan Sumo Association officials declined to comment on thereport.

The governor said she has not heard anything from theassociation but she is scheduled to meet the chairman tomorrow,an Osaka official said.

Women 'Pollute' Sacred Space

Tradition bans women from entering a sumo ring on the groundsthat it is sacred and their presence, considered unclean, wouldpollute it.

But it is also customary that a tournament trophy ispresented by the governor of the prefecture where a tournament isheld to the winner.

Ota failed in a bid to present the trophy at last yearstournament. A male deputy presented the trophy instead.

Both boys and girls may take part in childrens sumowrestling in primary school, but women are barred from the ringswhere national matches are held under the associations auspices.