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July Sumo tournament to allow up to 2,500 spectators a day

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13 Jul 2020 09:07:29 GMT9
13 Jul 2020 09:07:29 GMT9

TOKYO: The board of the Japan Sumo Association on Monday decided to hold the July grand tournament, set to begin in Tokyo on Sunday, with up to only 2,500 spectators per day as a measure to reduce the risk of novel coronavirus infection.

It will be the first time since the New Year competition in January that a bimonthly professional grand sumo tournament will be held in front of an audience. The spring tournament in March took place without spectators due to the epidemic, while the summer tournament in May was canceled. Each grand tournament runs for 15 days.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the start of the July tournament has been postponed for two weeks, and its venue has been changed from the central Japan city of Nagoya to the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward in order to reduce the risk of infections due to many association members having to travel and stay for a long period away from Tokyo.

The audience size for the upcoming tournament is reduced to a quarter of full capacity, with only one person occupying each “masuseki” box area, normally used by four people. For chair seats on the second floor, spectators will sit four seats away from each other. The masuseki areas will be priced at 8,500 yen to 15,000 yen.

Visitors will be required to have their body temperatures measured at the arena entrance. Those with temperatures of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher will be denied entry. Spectators will also have to wear face masks and use hand sanitizers.

Fan-greeting events involving contact between sumo wrestler and spectators will be banned. Alcoholic drinks will not be on sale.

The arena will open at 1 p.m. (4 a.m. GMT) on each of the 15 days of the tournament. Tickets will be sold exclusively online through a lottery, with applications to be received on Tuesday.

The Kyushu grand tournament, which usually takes place in November, will also be held at Ryogoku Kokugikan, instead of the Fukuoka Convention Center in the southwestern Japan city of Fukuoka, this year.

“For around three and a half months since April, sumo wrestlers have faithfully obeyed harsh restrictions on going out and taken infection prevention measures to prepare for the July grand tournament,” Hakkaku, head of the association and former yokozuna grand champion Hokutoumi, said in a statement. “We believe we can show audiences impressive matches that can meet their expectations.”

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