Japanese man dies after choking on rice ball during speed-eating contest

A 28-year-old Japanese man died choking on a rice ball at an "onigiri" eating contest in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture on Nov 13.

The Straits Times reported that the man had collapsed after stuffing five rice balls into his mouth. A doctor and nurse at the event tried to help him before he was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

The contest was held to promote local farm products, including the Oumimai rice brand, which is unique to the prefecture.

A reprentative for the contest said: "We had prepared tea and had considered safety issues so as not to have any emergencies, but this is a serious blow."

Japan’s best known competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi warned amateurs about trying to eat too much too fast after news of the man's death broke.