THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
November 11, 2019 at 16:10 JST
Komusubi Abi, center back, attends the dohyo matsuri, a Shinto ceremony for purifying the dirt ring, ahead of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Nov. 9 at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center in Fukuoka. (Kensuke Suzuki)
A prank video posted on social media by a higher-ranked sumo wrestler of a lower-ranked wrestler tied up, gagged and trying to free himself drew harsh criticism.
The Japan Sumo Association deemed the footage inappropriate and is calling on its members including wrestlers and stablemasters to refrain from posting on their private social networking sites.
The video footage was put up by 25-year-old komusubi Abi, in which juryo wrestler Wakamotoharu, a friend of Abi a year older than him, is bound and gagged with tape around his legs and his hands tied.
A prone Wakamotoharu lifts himself to a seated position in trying to free himself.
In a separate video that Wakamotoharu posted on his SNS account, Abi is given a similar “rough deal.”
On Nov. 9, Abi and Wakamotoharu visited the Fukuoka Kokusai Center, the venue for the current Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, and apologized to JSA Chairman Hakkaku, former yokozuna Hokutoumi, and other executives.
They submitted statements repenting their misdeed, which were required by the JSA.
“I should have been more self-aware. I will change my attitude,” Abi told reporters.
Kagamiyama, the former sekiwake Tagaryu, who is in charge of crisis management at the JSA, said that he advised the two wrestlers, “As you both are among the leading faces of sumo, behave as role models for younger wrestlers.”
On Nov. 6, the JSA told its members to exercise caution when posting on their private SNS accounts.
“As it is hard to oversee all posts by its members, the JSA decided to ask them to refrain from posting,” an official said.
Official accounts of each sumo stable on social networking sites are not targeted for the measure.
Both Abi and Wakamotoharu are competing in the 15-day Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, which started on Nov. 10. They both lost their bouts on the opening day.
Social media is popular among sumo wrestlers. Yokozuna Hakuho, komusubi Hokutofuji and No. 14 maegashira Terutsuyoshi all have Twitter accounts, with Hakuho having more than 123,000 followers.
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