TOKYO — Because the chief of the free world, and a person by no means shy across the highlight, President Trump is never a spectator to the occasions surrounding him. Depart it to a bunch of sumo wrestlers to steal his thunder.
On Sunday, contained in the Ryogoku Kokugikan, a stadium close to the Sumida River in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched Mr. Trump to Japan’s nationwide sport. It was the final day of an annual grand event, and a lot of the 11,000 followers in attendance sat on mats and cheered the loinclothed wrestlers as they barreled into one another with forces that appeared to defy physics.
Mr. Trump’s expertise was completely different. After a day of creature comforts like golf and a double-cheeseburger lunch as a part of Mr. Abe’s four-day appeal offensive, the president settled right into a low-backed chair close to the raised ring to absorb the ultimate few bouts. It was one in every of a number of exceptions the Japanese made to sumo’s inflexible guidelines to accommodate their visitor.
The president watched intently at instances because the fleshy males stomped their ft or threw handfuls of salt across the ring to cleanse the filth, and he periodically requested Mr. Abe or his aides questions on what was taking place earlier than him. However he didn’t at all times visibly react to decisive moments through the bouts or to among the extra ceremonial elements of the night.
Throughout his time on the sumo stadium, there have been indicators of help — a big Trump 2020 signal greeted the president as he approached the world. And Mr. Trump appeared to make an entrance just like these at any “Make America Nice Once more” rally — he clapped, fist-pumped and waved, greeting the attendees as if they’d assembled on his behalf.
However inside seconds, the gang’s consideration turned again to the event at hand, the primary since Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, ascended the throne this month. It shortly grew to become clear that this occasion, rooted in sumo’s historical traditions, wouldn’t be as Trump-focused because the president’s previous visits to televised skilled wrestling spectacles in the US.
The sumo ring is a sacred house, the place the identical algorithm and rituals has utilized to its inhabitants for hundreds of years. Ladies usually are not allowed. Neither are sneakers. And international leaders usually are not often given their very own mini-ceremony throughout a event, known as a basho.
Mr. Trump arrived in Tokyo as the primary American president to come back bearing his personal trophy for a sumo champion — a four-foot-tall object known as the President’s Cup. So when the final match ended, a picket set of stairs was wheeled as much as the sumo mound — one other innovation for this present day — and Mr. Trump approached clad in slippers normal to seem like actual sneakers.
The president bowed barely as he entered the ring, and with the assistance of a kimono-attired sumo official, he handed the trophy to the champion. Moments earlier, Mr. Abe had introduced his personal Prime Minister’s Cup — a smaller man lifting an excellent greater hunk of steel by himself and drawing smiles from the gang.
Mr. Trump then addressed the champion, Asanoyama, a wrestler within the decrease ranks of Japan’s prime tier of sumo who had sealed his victory the day earlier than. “In honor of your excellent achievement as sumo grand champion, I hereby award you the US President’s Cup,” Mr. Trump advised the wrestler. The president grinned briefly and clapped.
The president later summed up his day, which included dinner together with his hosts at a hibachi restaurant. “That was an unbelievable night at sumo,” he mentioned. “We introduced that lovely trophy, which you’ll have hopefully for a lot of a whole lot of years.”