Sumo popularity slumps to new low


Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo

TOKYO (majirox news) — Fewer people than ever before will attend the opening day of the September Grand Sumo at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sept. 11 with thousands of tickets remaining unsold, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) said.

Almost 5,000 advanced sale tickets are unsold for the opening day, the most ever on the opening day of a tournament at the 11,000-seat Kokugikan since its opening in 1985.

Foreigners are being blamed for the slack ticket sales.

“The number of foreigners coming to booths to buy tickets has been extremely small,” Matsuchiyama Stablemaster, the JSA official responsible for ticket sales said, adding that the decline in foreign tourists coming to Japan since the March 11 disasters was a factor in slack response to the tournament.

Another stablemaster, who declined to be named, said a variety of reasons were keeping people away.

“A lot has been going on in sumo, like the match-fixing,” the stablemaster said, referring to a scandal that resulted in the cancellation of the grand tournament in March. ‘Besides, people are too busy dealing with the disasters to worry about sumo.”

Ryogoku Kokugikan is the heartland of sumo, Japan’s national sport that once vied with baseball, and in more recent years soccer, as the country’s most popular pastime. The sport’s popularity has waned dramatically over the past decade with the retirement of popular Japanese grapplers, dominance of foreign wrestlers and scandals including match-fixing, bullying and links to organized crime.

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2 Responses to Sumo popularity slumps to new low

  1. sumo fun on 09/12/2011 at 7:53 pm

    The sumo tournaments should be a fair game like other sports, however, there have been too many scandals such as fixed games that involved organize crime, so it is inevitable that they lost their spectators. The sumo association, which is closed organization, made it worse.

  2. kart majere on 09/13/2011 at 11:06 am

    “Foreigners are being blamed for the slack ticket sales” – I hardly think that the JSA official’s claim that ticket sales are down because there are less foreignere visiting and therefore going to sumo matches, constitutes blaming. That is an idiotic conclusion.

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