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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005, 16:09 GMT
Sumos split over shorts squabble
Sumo wrestlers in Osaka
The mawashi is all professional sumo wrestlers can wear
A row has broken out in Japan over whether sumo wrestlers should be allowed to wear shorts when competing.

Traditionally, sumo wrestlers compete naked, apart from a small arrangement of wrapped cloth, known as a mawashi.

With fewer children adopting the sport, Japan's amateur sumo association suggested a switch to shorts, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.

However, the move has been blocked by Japan's professional sumo association, Nihon Sumo Kyokai.

The suggested new "sumo pants", which resemble cycling shorts, were devised by the sport's amateur association as a way of overcoming the youngsters' inhibitions about competing in a state of near-nudity.

One amateur sumo official told the paper: "Pubescent kids are not going to take part if they don't look cool."

But the professional body said anyone dressing in the shorts would be barred from youth tournaments at the national stadium in Tokyo.

"The national stadium has its rules and ways of doing things," a spokesman said.

"We have no intention of allowing children in pants into the ring."

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