Gender equality and the politics of sumo

After ski jumping, sumo:

For years, promoters of sumo have been pushing for the sport’s inclusion in the Olympic Games. To get there, the International Sumo Federation has thrown its weight behind a form of the game that would offend purists and surprise most everyone else: women’s sumo.

Sumo officials have long tried to get their sport, for years identified with giant men with topknots shoving each other in a ring, into the Summer Games. But when the International Olympic Committee declared in 1994 that single-sex sports could no longer qualify as candidates for the Games, that was enough to turn tradition on its head. Since then, sumo has been coming into its own internationally as an equal opportunity sport.

But the best bit is here:

[The] biggest hurdle [for Japanese women] came from a stigma that can be traced back to the 18th century, when, as entertainment for men, topless women sumo-wrestled blind men. Though this lewd variety eventually faded away in the mid-20th century after being banned repeatedly, a ceremonial form has continued in regional festivals so far out on the fringe of society that it remains virtually unknown.

Is that on YouTube?

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