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Sumo. Dwindling popularity or a new chapter?
The sport of sumo has been around in Japan in some forms since the beginning of time. It has evolved into an elegant professional sport enjoyed for hundreds of years by both emperors and commoners. When it comes to sumo there are vast differences of opinion about the sport. Some say it is much more than a sport, even go as far as calling it a lifestyle. Sumo has been described as one of the great spectator sports in the world. For a great part of 20th century sumo was the most popular spectator sport in Japan and it was not until the 1980s that baseball surpassed sumo in popularity. Recent decades it has had a decline in popularity as western entertainment has invaded the recreational landscape of Japan. The sport has though spread to countries all over the world as an amateur sport and is gaining popularity in a new field. Now at least 84 countries have their own amateur sumo circuit and are a part of the International Sumo Federation. This interest from abroad might be able to revive the popularity of the professional sumo that has been stained by scandals over and over again. The scandals include xenophobia on behalf of the Nihon Sumo Kyokai, cheating amongst sumo wrestlers, violence in the stables and gender discrimination.