Six New Cases of COVID-19 in Sumo

The sumo association revealed Saturday that both stablemaster Takadagawa (former Sekiwake Akinoshima) and his own Juryo wrestler, Hakuyozan are among six new confirmed cases of coronavirus within the sumo world. The four other new cases, as well as the first one announced on April 10th, are lower division rikishi whose identities and stable affiliations will remain confidential.

After coming down with a fever earlier this week, Takadagawa-oyakata was hospitalized on Thursday and his PCR test came back positive on Friday. Juryo wrestler Hakuyozan showed no such symptoms, but he (and presumably the rest of Takadagawa-beya) took a PCR test on Friday, and testing positive, he was admitted to the hospital as well.

Takadagawa-oyakata has become the first known stablemaster with the virus, and Hakuyozan, the first salaried level wrestler. It is unknown whether any of the five lower division cases are from Takadagawa stable or not. If the virus has been confined to Takadagawa, top division wrestlers Kagayaki and Ryuden, and head referee Shikimori Inosuke are among the well known figures most at risk.

Public relations director Shibatayama expressed a desire to take these cases into serious consideration when making decisions about the upcoming basho, “No decisions have been made yet, but with this type of situation, I’d like to proceed with caution under the guidance of experts in this matter.”

At the stable or stables that have housed the virus, practice and outings have been strictly prohibited for two weeks, and thorough cleaning and meticulous temperature monitoring have been ordered. Despite all this, the new rankings chart for the postponed Natsu Basho will be published on Monday as previously planned.


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