Asia-Pacific

Sumo tournament cancelled amid match-fixing scandal‎

File photo of Sumo wrestlers
For many Japanese, sumo is a much-loved part of their national culture

The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) has cancelled next month's grand tournament over allegations of match fixing.

It is the first such cancellation since 1946 - when Tokyo's main stadium was being renovated.

Police are investigating allegations of match fixing in which 13 senior wrestlers have been implicated.

It follows another scandal over illegal gambling last year which saw live television coverage of the sport dropped by national broadcaster NHK.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called the match-fixing scandal a betrayal of the people.

Sumo has its origins in religious rites and wrestlers are expected to observe a strict code of behaviour.

In the latest allegations the JSA chairman said last week that text messages found on mobile phones suggested that 13 senior wrestlers had been implicated.

One reportedly went into detail of how he would attack and the other would fall, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of yen (100,000 yen equals $1,227 or £757).

The messages came to light after police confiscated phones last year during an investigation into illegal gambling on baseball games by wrestlers using gangster middlemen.

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