The sumo association has confirmed based on PCR testing at a Tokyo Metropolitan hospital that the lower division wrestler in question has indeed been infected with COVID-19. This is the first confirmed case of coronavirus within the professional sumo world. Little is known about the severity of his condition at this time, but he was experiencing a productive cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue before he was admitted to the hospital. Neither his identity nor his affiliated stable have been revealed.
According to the Japan Sumo Association website, appropriate medical action is being taken for the rikishi in question and for all members of his stable, and there have not yet been any related symptoms reported from any other association members.
A timeline of the effects the virus situation has had on sumo since before the previous tournament are as follows:
- February 25th: The association held a meeting to discuss three options for the March tournament; to hold it normally, to hold without spectators, or to cancel.
- March 1st: It was decided to hold the tournament without spectators, and if at any point any member of the sumo association were to be infected with the virus, the basho was to be promptly cancelled.
- March 6th: The JSA announced that the Spring provincial tour would be postponed until next year.
- The tournament began on March 8th.
- March 15th/Day 8 of the tournament: M15 Chiyomaru ran a fever of 39 degrees Celcius and immediately dropped out.
- March 16th: Chiyomaru took a PCR test.
- March 17th: The sumo association announced that Chiyomaru was negative for the virus.
- The tournament made it to the final day, March 22nd, with no coronavirus cases.
- April 3rd: The JSA held a special board meeting, at which they decided to postpone the next two tournaments by 2 weeks each. They also ruled out inter-stable practices for the time being.
- April 4th: A lower division wrestler began to develop a fever which persisted for 4 days, abating once before rising again.
- On April 8th the wrestler was taken to the hospital after testing positive with a “simple” test.
- Shortly after, the diagnosis was reversed to “negative.” To be sure, another test was taken on April 9th.
- On the 10th, it was confirmed that the wrestler is positive for the virus.