Hatsu Basho 2021 commenced on Sunday amid another coronavirus surge and corresponding state of emergency in Tokyo.
Four entire stables — Miyagino, Arashio, Kokonoe, and Tomozuna — have been barred from competing at the January tournament due to COVID outbreaks. Out of 878 sumo personnel tested, 65 wrestlers and 18 other sumo association members were forced to withdraw due to infection in their stables. Among the infected are Yokozuna Hakuho, M2 Wakatakakage, M13 Chiyoshoma, and J5 Chiyootori.
97 wrestlers in total are kyujo from day 1. 16 of them are salaried level; 7 Makuuchi, 9 Juryo. To form yet another “no-kozuna” roster, Yokozuna Kakuryu pulled out due to on-going back pain.
On the other end of the non-infected withdrawal spectrum, Kotokantetsu, a Jonidan wrestler from Sadogatake-beya has voluntarily retired in an act of self-preservation. Fearing the proliferating coronavirus situation, the 22 year old requested that he be allowed to withdraw from the tournament. Sumo officials deemed his request “unreasonable,” and gave him no choice but to participate or retire.