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In summer 2010, a scandal in gambling on baseball matches implicating sumo wrestlers and their bosses was reported day after day by Japanese mass media. This scandal revealed the connections between the sumo world and criminal organizations and lead to unprecedented actions, such as the dismissal of the active Ozeki Kotomitsuki, one of the top Japanese sumo wrestlers, and the suspension of live television broadcasting of the sumo tournament. The reason why the Japanese public instigated mass public debates may relate to the notion that sumo has an intimate association with the gods, reinforced with its special position in Japanese tradition and culture. This article first presents a brief history of sumo and explains its particular characteristics. Then it provides a summary of the chain of events in the baseball gambling scandal and the responses from the Japan Sumo Association. In conjunction with examining the connection of the sumo world to criminal organizations, this article also identifies key managerial problems with the Japan Sumo Association.
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