On Wednesday when Ryozo Tatami, the 67-year-old mayor of Maizuru in northern Kyoto, collapsed during a speech, two women who were apparently had medical experience hurried into the ring to perform CPR.
Sumo wrestling journalist Taro Arai said, "I think it is all right for women to get on the ring when there is a reason to do so".
A photo grab from a Youtube video shows women climbing up a sumo ring to treat Maizuru city mayor Ryozo Tatami, who collapsed while making a speech in a gym in Maizuru, Kyoto prefecture, Japan April 4, 2018 in this photo released by Kyodo.
"In a situation that could have been life-threatening it was an inappropriate response". "I am deeply sorry", Hakkaku said, thanking the woman who provided first aid treatment.
According to witnesses cited by local media, sumo officials threw large quantities of salt into the ring after the women had entered, in an apparent bid to "re-purify" the sacred ground.
A number of women ran on to the ring to give emergency treatment, but the sumo judge at the event repeatedly called over the PA system for them to step off the arena. One of the traditional responsibilities of the governor of Osaka is to crown the champion of an annual sumo tournament, so she would always need to request permission to enter the ring in order to fulfill that duty.
The incident comes at a hard time for sumo in Japan.
Sumo is linked to Shinto ceremonies and matches are often considered offerings to gods.
Mayumi Moriyama, then the head of the labor ministry's bureau dealing with the welfare of children and women, lodged a protest alleging discrimination.
Several women rushed into the ring, but as they tried to help the mayor, multiple announcements were made over loudspeakers asking them to leave the ring.
Not all have criticized the tradition as discrimination.