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Sumo stokes controversy as 'ritually unclean' female medics banished from 'sacred' ring

Women Told to Get Out of Sumo Ring As They Tried to Save a Man's Life

The head of the sumo association, Nobuyoshi Hakkaku apologised to try to quell the uproar.

The ring is regarded as sacred and women, traditionally seen as "impure", are forbidden from entering.

Medical attendants rushed onto the platform in Kyoto on Wednesday when Maizuru Mayor Ryozo Tatami, 67, tumbled to the floor while making a speech, the Mainichi reports.

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

A jarring incident in a sumo ring has triggered a national conversation in Japan about how women are treated.

One woman told the men attending him that she was a doctor, at which point they moved and she began performing CPR on the man. "I deeply apologize", Hakkaku said in a statement.

The action of the referee has drawn sharp criticism from some sections of the Japanese media, including sumo wrestling journalist Taro Arai. But they were reprimanded by the referee, who used the loudspeaker systems in the gymnasium to order them out of the ring.

Eventually some male firefighters arrived with a defibrillator machine and took control of the situation.

"The judge was upset and made the announcement, but it was an inappropriate response because the situation could have been life-threatening", Hakkaku said in the statement.

The mayor was transferred to a hospital where he was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke and underwent surgery, but his condition is said to be not life-threatening, Maizuru city officials said Thursday.

This is not the first time there has been a sumo battle of the sexes.

In 2000, the then governor of Osaka Fusae Ota asked the sumo association to allow her to enter the ring so she could present a trophy to the champion wrestler, but her request was rejected. A similar incident involving then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Mayumi Moriyama occurred in 1990 and in 1978 when a 10-year-old girl was barred from entering the ring for the final stage of a children's sumo tournament, The Japan Times reported.