The Japan Sumo Association has announced that Yokozuna Hakuho will be absent from day 4 of the January tournament.
Hakuho, who was aiming for a 2nd consecutive (44th total) Emperors Cup, began with an opening day win, but surrendered two consecutive kinboshi wins to M1 East Endo and M1 West Myogiryu on the following days. The last time the Dai-yokozuna had been beaten by two rank-and-filers consecutively was days 3 and 4 of Hatsu Basho 2018, by two upper Maegashira wrestlers that time as well.
In the locker room after his day 3 match, Hakuho did not make any decisive statement on whether or not he would continue, but not being able to be active for the first 15 day tournament of 2020 indicates he may be done soon.
According to Miyagino-oyakata, Hakuho injured his back in the slam taken from Endo’s day 2 kirikaeshi (over-the-knee trip). He has also developed cellulitis from lacerations in training before the tournament.
Miyagino-oyakata engaged the press at his stable in Sumida, Tokyo, “He really wanted to keep going. I know he was determined to win the yusho.” He stated that he does not think Hakuho will return to action at any point during the tournament.
This will be his 14th kyujo. The last time he was absent was 2 tournaments ago during last year’s Aki Basho (from day 2). M2 Hokutofuji, the Yokozuna’s next scheduled opponent will receive the default win.