A jarring incident in a sumo ring has triggered a national conversation in Japan about how women are treated. On Wednesday, women who rushed to save a man who collapsed were ordered to leave the ring because of the sport's tradition that women are "impure" and cannot enter it, reports the Japan Times. One of the women ordered out appeared to be a nurse who was performing CPR, reports the New York Times. The incident can be seen in this video; the voice on the recording is a match judge telling the women over and over again to leave the ring. The scene is a little chaotic, but the Times reports that a man appears to take over CPR from the female nurse. The resulting uproar has led to an apology from the head of Japan's sumo association.
"The referee was upset and made the announcement, but it was an inappropriate response because the situation could have been life-threatening," said Nobuyoshi Hakkaku in a statement. "We extend a deep apology." The man who collapsed was Maizuru Mayor Ryozo Tatami, in his mid-60s, who was delivering a speech in the ring. He suffered a brain hemorrhage and required surgery but has survived. Making things worse, witnesses say salt was thrown into the ring to repurify it after the women left, per the BBC. An example of a common reaction: "Believing that tradition is more important than human lives is like a cult that mistakes fundamentalism for tradition," wrote comic book artist Yoshinori Kobayashi, per the Times. (The incident follows another in Japan in which a woman got into hot water at work for not waiting for her "turn" to get pregnant.)