Yokozuna Hakuho and Kakuryu will both miss the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament starting this weekend after deciding to pull out Friday due to injury concerns.
The 15-day tournament, which opens Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, will be the first in 37 years to commence without any wrestlers occupying the sport’s highest rank.
Asanoyama and Takakeisho, the two wrestlers at the sport’s second-highest rank of ozeki, will be the men to beat.
Hakuho, who fights out of Miyagino stable, has been nursing a right knee injury that forced him out of the July meeting with just three days remaining.
Meanwhile, Kakuryu, who belongs to Michinoku stable, forfeited his second-day bout in the same meet citing an elbow injury and did not return.
Thirty-five-year-old Kakuryu has yet to resume full training and on Wednesday said he is “not in shape” for the upcoming meet. The injury withdrawal is Kakuryu’s fifth and Hakuho’s fourth from the six grand tournaments over the past year.