Japan's sumo association said today it had cancelled a major tournament due to be held next month as the sport battles the most serious corruption allegations in its modern history.
The decision comes days after three wrestlers admitted they had fixed bouts via mobile phone – the first time an active wrestler has confirmed the long-standing suspicion that some matches are rigged. Eleven others have been implicated in the scandal, but reportedly deny any involvement.
The association conceded that it would be impossible to go ahead with the 15-day tournament in the western city of Osaka from 13 March – the first tournament cancellation in over 50 years.
Is that enough to consider possibly not going? I don't know. I would still have the splendor of hanami and Kyoto, not to mention the start of baseball and the J-League. If anything, it would remove any need to hang around Osaka and allow more time in Kyoto and Nara. Tough to say, but whatever I do, I need to pull the trigger soon.
Oh, and just to drive home the way Japan works:
Those found to have fixed matches could be expelled, and their pension allowances withdrawn, reports said.
But it seems unlikely that police will launch a criminal investigation: match-fixing is not illegal, and so far there is no evidence that anyone placed bets on suspect bouts.I'm sure it's all just too much for my feeble, gaijin mind to absorb, though.