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Sumo Wrestlers Get Their Hands On iPads

August 25, 2010

The ancient, highly traditional Japanese sporting tradition of sumo is getting a high-tech welcome to the 21st century with the distribution of iPads to the 51 clubs or “stables” that wrestlers represent, various media outlets reported on Wednesday.

The distribution of the 60 Apple-branded tablet computers among the sumo stables serves a number of purposes. For starters, the wrestlers — or, as they are more commonly known in Japan, “rikishi” — tend to have larger fingers that do not work as well on the keypads of smartphones or other smaller communication devices.

Also, the sport of sumo has been hit by scandals recently, including ones involving gambling, match-fixing, hazing, and drug use, and according to French news agency AFP, the Japan Sumo Association is hoping that the iPads will “help improve communication” in a sport “that has until now relied on old-school modes of telephone and fax machines.”

“We will hand out the newest iPads to all the sumo stables to swiftly communicate what we need to,” the governing body’s vice chairman, Hiroyoshi Murayama, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“It seems rather easy to use,” chairman Hanaregoma added in comments made to AFP following what was described as a “brief” training session on the iPad. “Sending emails was very easy.”

According to AFP reports, “The sport’s authorities faced loud public criticism for their clumsy efforts to investigate the scandals, in part due to insufficient sharing of information among sumo leaders”¦ With a reliance on faxes and phone calls, the sumo association has occasionally failed to distribute urgent messages to its officers and stable masters.”

In addition to email, the iPad is able to play movies, music, and games, while also functioning as an e-reader and a Web browser. It was released in April of this year, and sold more than three million units in its first three months of availability. In Japan, the cost of the Apple developed tablet computer starts at 48,800 yen, or approximately $570, according to Reuters.

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