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Sumo 'stables' searched in Japan probe

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Sumo 'stables' searched in Japan probe
  • Scandal has rocked sumo wrestling
  • NHK will not broadcast live next tournament, first time in 57 years
  • Tournament is scheduled for Saturday
  • Star wrestlers, stable masters caught in national scandal

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Wednesday searched sumo training facilities, or stables, as they continue to gather evidence on a widespread gambling scandal that has tarnished Japan's national sport.

Police searched the Onomatsu stable in Chiba prefecture -- the training base of 34-year-old wrestler Ozeki Kotomitsuki who admitted to illegally gambling on professional baseball games -- and the Tokitsukaze stable in Tokyo.

The scandal has rocked sumo wrestling in Japan, where national identity is closely linked to the sport and where top wrestlers can become national heroes.

On Sunday, the Japan Sumo Association dismissed Kotomitsuki and his stable master -- or coach -- Otake.


In addition, Japan's national broadcaster NHK decided that it will not broadcast live the next tournament, scheduled for Sunday. It is the first time in 57 years that NHK will not carry the competition live.

The sumo association has sought to repair the damage. The association's chairman said on the association website that the situation is "unprecedented and critical." He also promised to try to "regain the fan's confidence ... as soon as possible."

CNN's Junko Ogura contributed to this report.