A Japanese mayor has spoken out against Sumo wrestling’s “female ban” after two women helped save his life by rushing into the ring to perform CPR on him after he collapsed from a stroke during a speech at a sumo event. Maizuru mayor Ryozo Tatama, 67, officially resumed his duties on Thursday, two months after sumo officials tried to convince the nurse performing first aid on him that she needed to leave the ring because she was “ritually unclean.” In disturbing video captured of the incident, an official could be heard over the event’s P.A. system repeatedly demanding that the women leave the stricken mayor alone.
“Even though sumo has a long history and traditions, its female ban policy is irrelevant today,” said Tatami. “At least in situations requiring first aid, male or female should not matter. Anyone should be allowed to help out.”
Under sumo tradition, women cannot enter the sumo ring. If they do, the area must be ritually purified before competition can continue. In the wake of the incident, the head of the sumo association said that while the sumo officials behavior was in that instance inappropriate, that women should only ever be allowed to enter the ring in the event of an “emergency.”
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