Insight & Analysis

Airlines forced to add extra flight for sumo wrestlers

Published: Nov 2023

Japan Airlines had to organise a special flight for 27 sumo wrestlers, due to fears of exceeding weight limits.

Commercial airplane flying above clouds

The sumo wrestlers were flying to compete at a sporting festival in Amami Oshima, an island in the south of the country, but had to wait for a specially arranged flight to take them.

The 27 wrestlers, planned to fly from two different airports, with one group departing from Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo and the other from Itami Airport (ITM) in Osaka. However, due to concerns over sufficient fuel and weight restrictions the sumo wrestlers’ plans were altered by the national airline.

This meant the 14 wrestlers flying from Itami, instead had to get an extra flight to Haneda to make the special flight.

Whilst there is no minimum weight requirement to become a sumo wrestler, the average weight of a sumo wrestler is around 266 pounds (19st).

The airline put on additional flights to ensure the sumo wrestlers could get home after their competition, although it was a tight squeeze.

“I was joking about the possible weight concerns, but it actually turned into a problem. We had great support, although we are a little tired,” a representative for the Gunma wrestlers said in a report for TV Asahi. They joked about how a group of them sat next to each other on the way home as one of the wrestlers commented: “I think the middle seat was the toughest.”

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