Sumo, the National Sport of Japan

Although Sumo Wrestling is an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized sport, it has not yet been included in the Olympic games.  The 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics (July 23 to August 8) will not include Sumo as a competitive sport, however, shortly after the Olympic Torch is quenched, Tokyo will host the Grand Sumo tournament from August 12-13 to provide some global exposure to Sumo. Organizers of the tourney are promising commentary in English and access to the wrestlers for fans and media.

The International Sumo Federation (IFS), the sport’s governing body, now boasts 84 nations as members in a sign that Sumo is quickly becoming a global sport and that its inclusion in the Olympic Games may not be a long way off.

Sumo is synonymous with Japanese culture and the sport, steeped in the Shinto religion, dates back 1500 years.  Sumo became a popular sport in Imperial Japan between 710 and 1185, before being de-emphasized by the Shoguns in favor of Samurai competitions.  Sumo was revived with public matches after 1600 and from then it grew into the national sport of Japan it is today.

Sumo wrestling is unique.  It features competitors in a small ring, less than 5 meters in diameter.  The object of Sumo is for a wrestler to force his opponent either out of the ring or to force his opponent to touch the ground with any body part aside from the soles of his feet.  Sumo wrestlers wear only a loin cloth and grip each other by the belt.  The sport relies not only on brute strength but also on balance and technique.

In addition to following the IFS ( for news on Sumo events, Japan Guide ( provides more information on sumo training locations and smaller competitions and places of interest across Japan.


Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Sumo”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Apr. 2017, Accessed 28 June 2021.

Associated Press (Stephen Wade)

International Sumo Federation (

Japan Guide (

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