Ozeki Takayasu (29, Tagonoura-beya) made an unusual last minute decision to withdraw from day 8 action due to low back pain, putting a damper on his campaign to avoid demotion.
Translated from: https://www.nikkansports.com/battle/sumo/news/201911170000992.html
Takayasu applied for withdrawal after the top division ring entering ceremony, ensuring a freebie win for his scheduled opponent Takarafuji. He reported a lumbar strain to Director Sakaigawa-oyakata (former Komusubi Ryogoku), who decided that a rearrangement of tomorrow’s match schedule would be in order. If Takayasu does not return to this tournament, having a record of 3 wins and 5 losses so far, he will be demoted from Ozeki for the January tournament.
Sumo Association elders visited Takayasu at the west side changing room around 4:50pm, approximately an hour before he was scheduled to fight. Sakaigawa and the other elders waited with stern expressions for Takayasu to come out. They called Takayasu’s stablemaster Tagonoura (former Maegashira Takanotsuru), who himself had withdrawn from tournament duties due to a knee injury. “We understand your state of health is poor, but we have a situation here. Please give us your opinion.”
Tension was high in the changing room, given the suddenness of Takayasu’s kyujo. He finally emerged from the bathroom, leaning on his assistant, clearly in pain. He sat and discussed the situation with Sakaigawa for a few minutes, after which he left the scene in silence, despite the press corps’ questioning. Sakaigawa-oyakata addressed them, “It’s a lumbar strain. He can’t walk and there’s nothing we can do about it. The symptoms flared up after we got here.” According to staff, as Takayasu was navigating the steps between the dohyo and changing room (during the ring entering ceremony), he was sweating profusely, presumably due to the pain.
Today he will give up a default win to his scheduled opponent and tomorrow will be listed as an absence. Back in July, Takayasu suffered a severe ligament tear in his left elbow, and after taking the entire September tournament off, he managed to return to action this time around. But once again, it has turned into an ordeal.
He currently has 3 wins, so if he were to return on day 10, which is the earliest he can come back, he would need to win at least 5 out of the 6 remaining matches. Assuming he does not come back this tournament, Takayasu will be demoted to Sekiwake and will be aiming for 10 wins at the next tournament.
Such a last minute withdrawal is rare. Past occurrences of “going kyujo” after already performing the ring entering ceremony (specifically in the top two divisions) include Ozeki Ouchiyama, who on day 5 of the 1957 Hatsu Basho injured his knee while performing shiko (stomping exercise) in the changing room. Not having returned to the tournament, he was demoted from Ozeki. In 1989, Maegashira 3 Fujinoshin was waiting ringside for his match on day 12 of the September tournament. Misugisato fell off the dohyo and landed on him, fracturing Fujinoshin’s left fibula. Unable to stand, he gave up a freebie win to his opponent.