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Japanese networks Fuji, NHK bump sumo coverage

Bout-fixing scandal rocks sport

Fuji TV has pulled its coverage of the Nihon Ozumo sumo tournament, due to start Sunday, and pubcaster NHK has canceled its broadcast of a Feb. 11 sumo charity event after a bout-fixing scandal again hit the headlines Wednesday.

Text messages relating to bout fixing have been found on the cellphones of 13 wrestlers who were under investigation for gambling on pro-baseball games.

Police seized the phones last July and have since been restoring messages deleted from them.

Of the 13, three, including one former top-division grappler who is now a coach, have reportedly confessed to cheating.

After the scandal erupted last summer, education and sports minister Yoshiaki Takaki warned the Japan Sumo Assn., the sport’s governing body, that it might lose its status as a public interest corporation, depriving it of much-needed tax breaks.

NHK has aired pro sumo’s six annual tournaments for decades. It canceled coverage of the July tourney in Nagoya in reaction to the gambling scandal and has not said yet what it plans to do about a March event in Osaka.

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