Women Trying to Save Man's Life Ordered Out of Sumo Ring

In sumo's tradition the ring is considered sacred and women are prohibited from entering. So when some women tried

The incident comes at a hard time for sumo in Japan.

Professional sumo traditionally bans women from walking into the ring, called a dohyo, because they are considered "unclean".

The referee's announcement, aired through loud speakers at the gymnasium, rekindled public criticism and prompted Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku to later issue a statement of apology.

On Wednesday when Ryozo Tatami, the 67-year-old mayor of Maizuru in northern Kyoto, collapsed during a speech, two women who were apparently had medical experience hurried into the ring to perform CPR.

Local Japanese media showed video of the event Thursday morning and commentators argued the referee shouldn't have told the women to get out.

"Ladies, please get off the ring", a sumo referee said.

The two women rushed into action, leaping to the aid of the collapsed man lying on the ground and pumping at his chest, both evidently medically trained.

"We deeply apologize", Hakkaku added. In 1989, Moriyama became the first woman to become chief Cabinet secretary, and in 1990 she asked the association to allow her to enter a ring to present the prime minister's trophy.

Women practice sumo wrestling, but are barred from competing professionally due to this rule. The mayor was taken to the hospital and underwent surgery to stop the bleeding, according to the local reports and is now in a stable condition. "Without the women's effort, the life of one person might have been lost". "It was an inappropriate response in the life-threatening situation".

The incident, which was widely reported in Japanese media, has stoked a gender discrimination row and highlighted the role of women in a society that is trying to keep up with the times while clinging to its deeply traditional roots.

The association had sparked controversy twice by barring female officials from entering the ring during award ceremonies.

Sumo traces its origins back 2,000 years to a time when it was an integral part of Shintoism.

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