A Sumo Statue's Butt Might Be Spooking Olympic Horses

A sumo statue is taking horses by surprise on an Olympic course.

sumo scares horses at olympics
Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images

Update: According to a report by ESPN, the statue has been removed.

Maybe you've heard this one before. A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender asks, "Why the long face?" The horse says, "Because I was startled by a butt on national TV."

Olympic equestrian jumpers, like all Olympians, have spent years preparing for the Games. They, however, have probably not trained for obstacle no. 10 on the track in Tokyo. The AP reports that a life-size sumo wrestler who looks like he's holding up the 10th obstacle "may have distracted several horses in qualifying for the individual jumping final Tuesday night."

As the rider and horse approach the obstacle, they're greeted by the wrestler's ample backside. The AP explains, "The statue is positioned to the left of a jump placed in the corner of the arena. Hunched over and seemingly ready to attack, the wrestler is facing away from approaching riders, meaning that when they complete a sharp turn to take on the jump, the first thing horse and human see is the wedgie created by the wrestler’s mawashi." It's thrown some horses off their game.

"As you come around, you see a big guy's [butt]," British rider Harry Charles told the AP. He also said he noticed "four or five horses really taking a spook to that." Another rider added, "There's a lot to look at."

We can't really know what's spooking horses around that obstacle, since there are plenty of options, but quite a few riders think it could be the statue. "It's very realistic. It does look like a person, and that's a little spooky," said Israel's Teddy Vlock. "You know, horses don't want to see a guy, like, looking intense next to a jump, looking like he's ready to fight you."

Other riders think it could be the cherry blossoms on the other side of the jump, per the AP. Still, it's understandable to be taken aback when you round a corner and find a pair of cheeks staring you in the face.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.