My big fat scandal

The Economist, Tipping Point: Removing the rot from the sport of emperors:

Bout-rigging has been alleged for decades. Retired wrestlers occasionally admit it. In 1996 two former wrestlers about to go public with evidence died of a rare respiratory illness within hours of each other (no wrongdoing was found). A statistical examination of bouts over 11 years by University of Chicago economists clearly identified rigged matches (to let borderline wrestlers retain their rank). Still, the JSA always denied foul play. The body even sued those who dared to disparage the sport of emperors, which traces its lineage back more than a millennium.

Today’s charges will be harder to evade. Evidence is provided by erased but reconstructed text messages on the mobile phones of a dozen wrestlers and stablemasters. These were confiscated by police during an investigation last year over sumo’s links to baseball betting (illegal in Japan) and ties to the yakuza, Japan’s mob. “Who do I owe a win to now?” one wrestler texted another last March. “Will you let me win at the next tournament? If not, I want the 200,000 back,” texted another in May, according to police leaks to the media.

Yomiuri Shimbun, Sumo rigging probe: Long slog ahead:

Getting to the bottom of the sumo match-fixing scandal that has plunged the ancient sport into what could be the biggest crisis in its history is certain to take much longer than expected because of difficulty analyzing evidence and uncooperative wrestlers, a special investigative panel has disclosed. All signs are pointing to a protracted effort to fully reveal the details of the scandal and decide on punitive action against wrestlers and others involved, according to the panel. The independent investigative body headed by Waseda University Prof. Shigeru Ito submitted an interim report Monday to an emergency meeting of the Japan Sumo Association at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Asahi Shimbun, Low-ranked wrestler played a key role in sumo scandal. Looks at the role of a 31 year-old sandanme wrestler named Enatsukasa, who may have been responsible for coordinating a lot of the match rigging. I include this mostly because it is the first time I’ve ever seen the term “dohyo diver” in print.