TOKYO (Reuters) – Sumo’s top-ranked referee will resign over an incident in which he kissed and touched a teenage referee while drunk, Japanese media reported, the latest scandal to hit the country’s ancient national sport.
The referee, Shikimori Inosuke, was suspended for three tournaments and the Japan Sumo Association would accept his formal resignation after the May summer grand tournament, Kyodo news agency reported.
The incident follows the resignation of former sumo grand champion Harumafuji in November for injuring fellow Mongolian wrestler Takanoiwa while drinking at a restaurant-bar with other wrestlers.
Harumafuji was also fined 500,000 yen ($4,400) for the assault.
“At this time, following in succession after the assault issue, we had this incident of Inosuke’s inappropriate acts,” Kyodo quoted JSA Chairman Hakkaku as saying at a news conference on Saturday. “I‘m sorry for this.”
“My hope is that the wrestlers summon every ounce of strength they possess and put on a fine display of sumo,” Hakkaku added. “We need to put on a good show for the fans.”
Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Peter Rutherford