April 24th marks 2 weeks since the first case of coronavirus within the sumo association, an anonymous lower division wrestler, was confirmed.
Reportedly, having not received word yet from the wrestler’s stablemaster on the progress of his treatment, public relations director Shibatayama told reporters, “I don’t know the current situation at that stable, and I have not heard whether there are any new cases.” According to him, there have been no other complaints of viral symptoms since the first case was brought to the association’s attention.
Shibatayama-oyakata revealed that after the new banzuke has been announced on April 27th, the resumption of the currently suspended charging practice will be left up to the discretion of each stablemaster. After the first COVID case was confirmed on the 10th, a call went out to each stable on the 13th requesting that butsukari-geiko, an exercise for which there is no way of avoiding physical contact, be eliminated from practice sessions.
“For the past two weeks, everyone has been focusing on basic (solo) exercises, but we are also making sure that they are checking temperatures consistently and that each stablemaster is practicing self-restraint when it comes to charging practice,” said Shibatayama.
Instead of being picked up by a member from each stable (as is tradition), the paper copy of the new rankings chart for Natsu Basho will be delivered to each stable when it comes out on the 27th.