Over the past few weeks the Far East has been rocked by more scandals than OJ and it hasn’t been just one country, or one sport. Japan, and China have been the highest profile examples, but even the former British colony of Hong Kong has been plagued by problems of one kind or another.
Lets start off with Japan then, and the tale of the naughty Sumo wrestlers. Since rumours started to emerge of illegal gambling activity by certain wrestlers, the sport hasn’t looked back and has now been dumped more times than a D-list celebrity.
The main point of contention seems to be that the participants have been illegally betting on the outcome of baseball games, which you aren’t allowed to do under any circumstances. Worrying Japan’s Sumo Association more than this though is the connections between the sport and crime syndicates within the country, and this is serious enough that certain high-ranking wrestlers have been kicked out of the sport.
Obviously any organised crime shouldn’t be tolerated at whatever level of sport, but this is akin to finding out the mafia is involved with soccer in Western Europe, and that they’ve helped to fix matches to make significant gains, which would never happen in the EU, would it?
Sorry if I’m being stupid here but Italian soccer has had its fair share of ‘outside involvement’ and you don’t see them pulling coverage of top division games, or having big corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola pulling the plug.
Then on the flip side you have China, who in a league of their own have reportedly eradicated all traces of the illegal gambling rings, in the increasingly under-zealous way in which they run their country. The ‘rings’ as they are known have all been broken up and there’s none left at all. Bravo China.
A question to pose following these two separate announcements is why not allow these activities to go on legally? It would prevent underground groups from muscling in causing this type of a situation where a lot of people are detained, and whole sports are disgraced. People, in whatever walk of life, are always going to want to gamble, especially on sports. It makes the act of watching a lot more exciting, and adds a little more intrigue as well as much more of a risk factor for the viewer.
China, as it has shown in the past, is not one to react to international opinion, however persuading it may be. The thriving economies that both countries possess almost guarantees that any financial benefit they may see from online gambling has no significance to them, and this maybe why they steer clear of it. Even if this is the case, the social well-being of the nation should have some bearing on the decision. If the reason both countries are doing it is to break up organised crime rings then surely some new gambling legislation would also do something to help the prevention of these groups, in turn helping the sports involved for the time being at least.
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