Sumo World Championships –
a tale of people and
and the air over the city could almost be cut with a knife. But then,
things came to a peak at the main get together and Welcoming Dinner on
the Saturday evening.
Picture the scene – as I must, as the press, oddly enough, were not permitted access – representatives of nations from across the globe, sat shoulder to shoulder, side by side; in alphabetical order. The pleasantries were done away with, then, according to half a dozen SFM sources of varying nationalities inside the meeting hall, pandemonium prevailed.
Seeming like angry children, European allies known to be in the corner of the banned and absent Gadd of Holland and Romenath of Germany (Austria, Germany and Finland), stood, disrupting the proceedings, looking for answers to an issue that has been simmering for much of 2006: “Why can’t we (Europeans) earn a crust from the sport? You Japanese have a shot at the big leagues – we don’t!”.
Ironically, in making the claims, those standing were calling for others to stand in support; a claim that fell on deaf ears in the case of Ireland, victims of a complete lack of ESU support in their months of jumping through hoops to be permitted to join the ISF.
As it were, with the Europeans still looking for answers, the ISF president, Hidetoshi Tanaka, is said to have ignored the questions raised and then left the room. A short time later, he was
According to Richard Quest, business analyst-cum-
opinionated-newscaster on CNN, the definition of a camel is “a horse
built by a committee”.
Quest is obviously an expert on amateur sumo and may thus enjoy reporting on the sport at this level for no other quasi-metaphor other than ‘camel’ would better describe the organization and management of the 14th Sumo World Sumo Championships & 5th Shinsumo World Championships held in Sakai City on October 15th.
In preparing to make the trek to Osaka to represent SFM at the last event to be held in Japan until at least 2009, the first annoyance was having to ignore the “minor” hiccups, with the International Sumo Federation forgetting to notify the English language media of the pre-event press conference (held in Osaka when all major media organizations and even the ISF are based in Tokyo), as well as their not bothering to answer questions already previously sent in by mail. Not exactly a shock after dealing with the ISF for some time now, but things weren’t looking too rosy from the get-go and we were still a full week before the commencement of the event proper!
BUT - we were just warming up!
Friday evening before the event saw the current head of Dutch Sumo and
General Secretary of the European Sumo Union (ESU), Stephen Gadd,
ejected from one of the athlete’s hotels for reasons still “officially”
undetermined, but essentially, as a result of having been banned from
attending the SWC along with ESU President Gunther Romenath. Romenath
was not seen and presumably didn’t make the trip.
Both Gadd and Romenath are known to have participated in the failed 2006 World Sumo League in the USA - captured on video working as referees, nonetheless - in what was/is a non-ISF sanctioned event.
The following day, as the weigh-ins for each weight class were taking place and some rikishi were getting in last minute practice sessions, a number of participants - the men and women who make amateur sumo work - could be seen wandering the streets of Sakai looking rather confused. Timings, locations of meetings and protocol to follow, once in meetings, were all subjects put to SFM’s man on the spot as, yet again, nothing appeared to be forthcoming from the organizers.
As the unseasonably warm day wore on, the tension could be felt