The Japan Sumo Association apologised on Thursday after a sumo judge ordered women, including a physician, out of the ring while trying to administer first aid to the mayor because women are considered "ritually unclean" in the sport and are barred from stepping into them.
Maizuru Mayor Ryozo Tatami, 66, was delivering a speech in the ring, in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, on Wednesday when he collapsed due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
In the video, which has gone viral in Japan, the announcer at the sumo stadium features an announcer telling the women repeatedly over the loudspeaker to leave the ring.
The head of Japan's sumo association has apologized after several women were told to get out of the ring when they rushed to perform first aid on an official who had collapsed.
"It was an inappropriate response in a life-threatening situation", Hakkaku said.
"Things are changing for women in Japan, but it feels like one hand gives and the other takes away". "We offer a honest apology", said Hokutoumi, who is also known as Hakkaku, the name of the sumo stable he heads.
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'We pray from the bottom of our heart for safety of the mayor, and express our deep gratitude towards women who offered emergency measures on the spot, ' added the sumo chief.
In February, a sumo wrestler was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, and last month, Egyptian sumo wrestler Osunaarashi was arrested for allegedly driving without a licence when he got into a vehicle accident in central Japan.
Footage posted on social media triggered outrage, with many criticizing sumo officials and saying they were choosing tradition over life.
The association had sparked controversy twice by barring female officials from entering the ring during award ceremonies. She too found herself banned from the ring. However, they were asked to leave the sumo ring.
The tradition drew public attention for the first time in 1978, when a 10-year-old girl advanced to the final round of a children's sumo championship. The request was rejected.