Ryozo Tatami, mayor of Japanese city Maizuru, collapsed yesterday while making a speech in a sumo ring in Kyoto, TIME reports. Within seconds, medics rushed onto the stage to help him, but an announcement soon sounded around the arena ordering the female attendants to leave the ring. The Japan Sumo Association has issued an apology today.
In Japanese culture, women have historically been banned from entering or even touching the sumo ring. This isn’t the first time this tradition has posed an issue in modern society: Japan’s first female governor, Fusae Ota, had a recurring issue with the Japan Sumo Association. One of the traditional responsibilities of the governor of Osaka is to crown the champion of an annual sumo tournament, so she would always need to request permission to enter the ring in order to fulfill that duty. Her requests were continually denied.
What’s more, women have become increasingly interested in sumo, but JSA limits women’s sumo competitions to amateur levels, thereby maintaining a cap on how much women can join the sport.
Tatami had a brain hemorrhage and was subsequently hospitalized. He has since undergone surgery, but is currently in a stable condition, per the the Japan Times.
The Japan Sumo Association issued an apology for the incident today. “The response was inappropriate considering that someone’s life was in danger. I am deeply sorry,” the association’s chief Nobuyoshi Hakkaku said in a statement.