The JSA has begun administering antibody tests for COVID-19 to its 1000 plus members. “We are taking the antibody tests starting today,” said spokesman Shibatayama, “It was already administered to two stables, a total of 43 individuals.” He explained that going forward, two or three stables (roughly 50 people) per day will take the test.
Last Wednesday sumo said goodbye to a young wrestler of 28. With diabetes as an underlying condition, he had battled coronavirus for over a month, only to develop pneumonia and die of multiple organ failure. Shobushi, or his real name, Suetake Kiyotaka, was the first COVID death in professional sumo. The six others who had been infected, all from the same (Takadagawa) stable, have recovered.
The same day Shobushi died, the kyokai announced that there would be extensive testing done throughout the organization. With some 700 wrestlers, 100 or so elders, along with referees, ushers, and the rest, approximately 1000 tests will need to be done to cover the entire sumo association. This process may take a month, but it will be helpful information in preventing further spread going forward.
With these extra measures being taken, it may yet be feasible to carry out a July basho. This month’s canceled Natsu Basho and subsequent broadcasts on NHK and Abema TV, however, will be replaced by recaps and highlights of defining moments in sumo. Viewers in Japan will have no issue accessing that, but international fans will still have to wait and see what will be made available for their viewing pleasure.
Source: Nikkan Sports