Francois Wahl – President
of the Swiss Sumo Society
Interview by Mark Buckton
|these problems remaining unresolved as we approach the 2007 championships?
FW: Some of the athletes who participated in the US tour seem to be able to join amateur sumo and participated in Osaka while others could not. The situation looks confused from here but my real problem is to guess how many rooms to book!
MB: I understand nothing has yet been announced on the length of, or even validity of bans imposed by the ISF prior to the 2006 event. Can you confirm this?
FW: Personally I have not seen anything regarding the length of any bans and as far as I can see there is no appeal system.
MB: Will the fact that the 2007 championships are being held in Europe play a part as far as the bans go? Any chance of leniency? Is it deserved?
FW: I am not really involved in those matters. Something may happen as it may affect the number of athletes. I suppose that if it is a life ban the offense must have been really serious since, in the case of doping, for instance, a cyclist would receive a ban of from 6 months to two years with the possibility of an appeal.
1 Bans that excluded attendance at official events in Osaka by the European Sumo Union (ESU) General Secretary (interviewed here) as well as several prominent European athletes
with the sudden and very real possibility of the 2007 Sumo World
Championships, scheduled to take place in Switzerland, being held with
little or no television coverage and subsequently limited, if any,
sponsorship due to (re)scheduling of event dates by the Tokyo-based
International Sumo Federation (ISF), Mr. Francois Wahl, President of
the Swiss Sumo Society, agreed to sit down with Sumo Fan Magazine
across the miles, and continents, to have a chat:|
MB: Francois, please share with SFM readers the reasons behind the recent loss of planned television coverage at the planned Lausanne event?
FW: It was down to a change of date (MB: when the event would take place) due to an event in Japan, I believe.
MB: How did this go down with the advertisers you had lined up?
FW: We lost all the advertisers but not only ‘on the ground’ / in the stadium. There will be a certain degree of TV coverage but what we call “news”- under 3 minutes of footage. TV pays nothing for that. What was originally planned was 51 minutes of coverage which, for sponsors, would make a lot of difference. If we find big enough sponsors from now, we could pay the production costs and air the championships on other channels but…
|MB: Any good news on the advertising horizon?
MB: Will the ISF provide support in this area?
FW: They are trying …Maybe through Sumo Fan Magazine too - maybe somebody will read this and will consider getting involved with amateur sumo.
MB: With the resident Swiss-based International Olympic Committee having presumably been invited to the championships in November, how do you think this lack of publicity and advertising will look in front of the people due to decide upon amateur sumo’s Holy Grail of Olympic inclusion?
FW: This will be rather annoying but it is difficult to judge the impact at present.
Several African countries with little chance in ice skating or horse riding competitions would like sumo to get in. There is unfortunately little chance for the Evala form of wrestling from Togo to get in but since it is like sumo they would possibly vote for it.
MB: Looking back at the 2006 event in Osaka, as you know, it didn’t go off as smoothly as it might have (due to bans1 imposed on some in European amateur sumo after their attemptto align with a profit-seeking US venture). Do you see