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Sumo association scrambles to beef up security for Trump visit

In this May 24, 2019 photo, spectators watch the Summer Grand Sumo Tornament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo's Sumida Ward. (Mainichi/Taro Fujii)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japan Sumo Association is scrambling to institute security measures, some of them unprecedented, ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's attendance Sunday at the tournament in Tokyo to present a newly created trophy to the winner.

In a very unusual step in the long history of sumo in its present form of professional bouts, the association will ask spectators coming to the last day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan to submit their personal information including name, address and phone number, according to the association.

Any beverages bought in glass bottles or cans in the arena must be put in the cups that the shops will provide before spectators can take them to their seats, it said.

A shop on a basement floor selling "chanko nabe" stew, typically eaten by sumo wrestlers, as well as a lounge for parents with babies will be closed, the association said.

Trump will watch the bouts from behind a specially situated table near the raised ring at the center of the arena in an uncustomary arrangement, instead of from one of the more-distant seats reserved for distinguished guests.

In box seats around the ring, spectators usually sit cross-legged on cushions.

Since the tournament began, U.S. officials have been visiting the arena to inspect the area where Trump will be seated. One time they were seen removing partition pipes from some box seats, apparently to make way for the president's entry and exit.

A number of security personnel will be on alert by the president's table to protect him from flying cushions as spectators throw them to show their disappointment when a grand champion loses a bout.

"I don't know where I will be able to have my seat that day," one senior association official said with a wry smile.

One stablemaster said, "People will associate heavy security with the notion that there is someone out there planning a hit (on Trump) so there won't be the warm atmosphere that we usually have there."

Trump will pay a four-day visit to Japan as a state guest from Saturday to meet the new Emperor Naruhito and hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe among other events.

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