We should be watching the opening ceremony of the XXXIII Olympiad right now.
But COVID has changed the history of the Olympics along with so many other features of our lives. Tokyo 2020 retains the name, but the dates have changed.
Originally scheduled to take place from July 24th through the second week of August this year, Tokyo 2020 now opens on July 23rd 2021. They are the first Summer Games to be postponed instead of cancelled due to an international crisis.
- Sumo was first mentioned in writing in the 700’s, but pre-historic wall paintings show sumo’s roots in ritual dances for good harvests;
- Matches are held in a 15-foot wide clay ring;
- Far from colliding and rolling around on the floor like the Western party game, sumo wrestlers try to force their opponents outside of the ring in full-contact, ritualized movements that are considered a martial art;
- Sumo wrestlers are required to wear their hair long in a waxed topknot, in an historically Samurai warrior style;
- In the ring, they wear 30-foot long belts (not diapers!), tied in the back, that the other wrestler can latch onto to throw his opponent out of the ring;
- Matches begin with a powerful crouch and charge that use the wrestlers’ great size to full effect;
- There are no weight classes in sumo, so the bigger wrestlers can get, the better! Sumo wrestlers consume specific, traditional foods – up to 20,000 calories every day, or 10 times what an average person needs! – to gain and maintain weights in excess of 300 pounds. In modern sumo history, 3 famous sumo wrestlers have even weighed in at over 600 pounds!;
- Even today, other customs and traditions of sumo are very linked to Japan’s ancient Shinto religion, including the throwing salt to purify the ring.
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