名古屋場所開催 勧告踏まえて抜本的改革を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 30, 2010)
Take tough steps to restore sumo's honor
名古屋場所開催 勧告踏まえて抜本的改革を(6月29日付・読売社説)

The Japan Sumo Association has decided to open the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on July 11 as scheduled, despite an abnormal situation in which it will suspend many wrestlers, including seven in the top makuuchi division, from the tournament and put the JSA chairman on probation over the ongoing gambling scandal.

The JSA has forfeited the public's trust through the scandal over illegal betting on professional baseball games, and there are many who question its decision to hold the Nagoya tournament. Since it is going ahead with the tournament under such adverse circumstances, the JSA must quickly present cleanup measures rigorous enough to satisfy fans of the national sport.


Panel urged harsh penalties

The association's board of directors decided to accept recommendations made by a special investigation panel comprising 10 outside experts regarding conditions for holding the Nagoya tournament.

The panel recommended the JSA should dismiss or mete out heavier penalties against stablemaster Otake (former sekiwake Takatoriki), who is alleged to have habitually bet huge amounts of money, and ozeki Kotomitsuki, who was blackmailed by a former wrestler over his gambling.

In addition, the panel urged the JSA to put the other wrestlers involved in the illegal gambling and their stablemasters on probation. In line with the recommendations, the association decided to suspend a total of 14 wrestlers, including Kotomitsuki, from the Nagoya tournament. The stablemasters to be put on probation include JSA Chairman Musashigawa.

Otake and Kotomitsuki's punishment will be officially decided at the association board meeting scheduled for Sunday, but they are likely to receive tough penalties as recommended by the panel. Many sumo fans must feel sorry to see the misconduct of Kotomitsuki, the highest-ranked Japanese wrestler, and Otake, who took over the stable established by legendary yokozuna Taiho.


Lax management must end

The association initially intended to just give warnings to those who voluntarily confessed their involvement in illegal gambling. However, the general public would certainly regard such a penalty as too mild. The panel's recommendations apparently are a red card against the JSA's lenient attitude.

Whenever scandals occurred in the past, the JSA was often criticized for its lax crisis management. The closed-off nature of the association, which is run totally by former wrestlers, is likely responsible for its inability to cleanse itself.

The latest gambling scandal, which involves even stablemasters, makes it clear that the discipline of the professional sumo society cannot be maintained if this continues.

Two of JSA's 12 current directors now come from outside sumo, a change that stemmed from the deadly assault that occurred in the Tokitsukaze stable. The association's leadership has to be reformed through such drastic measures as further increasing the number of board directors from outside the sumo world.

While Musashigawa is on probation, Hiroyoshi Murayama, a former head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office who was invited to be a JSA board director, will likely be appointed acting chairman.

Even if the Nagoya tournament is held as scheduled, some sumo fans may complain that they do not want to cheer for the wrestlers in the ring. Certain sponsors have decided not to provide prize money for the tournament.

Concrete measures to reform the association and reeducate wrestlers must be devised urgently to make the Nagoya tournament a chance to restore the honor of professional sumo.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 29, 2010)
(2010年6月29日01時40分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-30 06:43 | 英字新聞

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