TOKYO: The Japan Sumo Association said Saturday that all wrestlers from four stables, who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus or possibly had close contact with those infected, will miss all 15 days of the New Year’s grand tournament.
The four stables are Kokonoe, Tomozuna, Miyagino and Arashio. The number of wrestlers to be absent from the 15-day professional grand sumo tournament, to be held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan hall in Tokyo from Sunday, totals 65, including yokozuna grand champion Hakuho, who belongs to Miyagino stable.
In polymerase chain reaction tests conducted on 878 members of the association on Friday, four Kokonoe stable wrestlers, including Chiyoshoma and Chiyootori, who compete in the “makuuchi” top division and the “juryo” second-highest division, respectively, were found to be infected with the virus. A wrestler from Tomozuna stable also tested positive.
Hakuho tested positive on Tuesday while 12 people from Arashio stable were confirmed with the virus late last month.
Following the Japanese government’s declaration of a fresh state of emergency over the coronavirus for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures, the association decided to limit the number of spectators at 5,000 per day for the New Year’s tournament. The virus emergency will run until Feb. 7.
“The tournament could have been canceled if more wrestlers had been confirmed with the virus,” Oguruma, a senior official of the association and former ozeki champion Kotokaze, said.
“If we had decided to hold the tournament without adequate preparations, we might have seen infection clusters during the competition,” Shibatayama, the association’s public relations chief and former yokozuna Onokuni, said.