Asia-Pacific

Sumo prosecutions sought in Japan over gambling ring‎

Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo
Image caption The Japan Sumo Association has cancelled next month's grand tournament

Japanese police have asked for two sumo wrestlers to be prosecuted in connection with illegal gambling allegedly linked to organised crime.

Local media say it is the first police action against serving wrestlers in the history of the ancient sport.

Sumo's image has recently been tarnished by a match-rigging scandal.

The Japan Sumo Association has cancelled next month's grand tournament while a special investigation panel continues its inquiry.

It is the first such cancellation since 1946 - when Tokyo's main stadium was being renovated.

Gangster middlemen

Police want formal charges brought against two wrestlers identified as Daido, 28, and Shironoryu, 27 - both active in sumo's second-highest division.

They are suspected of betting on baseball games using gangster middlemen.

Police submitted their request to the Tokyo District Prosecutors' Office, which will decide whether to pursue the case against them and seven other suspects, police said.

It is the latest in a series of scandals to rock the traditional Japanese sport.

At least 13 senior wrestlers had been implicated and three have admitted rigging fights.

The sport has been dogged by match-fixing claims for decades, but until now such claims have always been firmly denied.

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