It has been decided that Natsu Basho will be canceled altogether. This decision came after Japan’s state of emergency, which was originally to expire on May 6th, was extended to May 31st. Natsu Basho 2020 will be the first canceled honbasho since the “yaocho” match fixing scandal of early 2011 forced a shut down of the Spring tournament.
The sumo association board came to an agreement over conference call based on the way the recent situation has unfolded. “Naturally we are going to follow the government’s policy. It’s justified that we are canceling,” said one member. “With the recent cases I think it’s the reasonable decision,” another agreed.
In March, the Osaka tournament was held without spectators to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The 15 day tournament ended with no cases of the virus, which remained the case in the sumo association until last month. Six wrestlers and a stablemaster had become infected during April, and all but one have recovered.
“This situation is quite different from that of Haru Basho,” explained one sumo board member, “with several members getting infected, Natsu Basho is hopeless.”
As for the two weeks postponed Nagoya Basho, scheduled to begin on July 19th, the association decided to hold it at the Kokugikan in Tokyo instead of Dolphins Arena in Nagoya. This will eliminate the need to transport hundreds of wrestlers out of Tokyo, and the plan is to hold the July tournament the same way as in March, without spectators.
Furthermore, the autumn regional tour has been canceled. Chairman Hakkaku explained that he wished not to cause trouble for sponsors with the uncertainty of the coming months. This year’s summer regional tour had already been canceled last year, considering that it would conflict with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so the next scheduled tour will be the Winter Jungyo, beginning in Hirakata, Osaka.
Chairman Hakkaku went on to extend sympathy to those affected by the pandemic, and thanks to those working on the front lines. To the fans, he offered apologies on behalf of the sumo association, and promised to, “provide you with the most impressive sumo when the next event is held.”