Yokozuna Hakuho looks unlikely to contest the upcoming New Year Grand Sumo tournament!
The worldclass sumo wrestler learned the news for his positive COVID-19 test at Tuesday, reports The Japan Times.
The Japan Sumo Association said the Mongolian-born grand champion received the positive result from a polymerase chain reaction test taken on Monday.
Hakuho, who has won a record 44 top-division titles, has been preparing for the New Year meet starting Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Top Japan sumo wrestler Hakuho infected with coronavirus – JSA https://t.co/rFrC95Vwfk pic.twitter.com/UmCpIw7w7e
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 5, 2021
He is the first wrestler from among sumo’s elite ranks atop the first-tier makuuchi division to test positive for the virus.
The 35-year-old underwent the PCR test after noticing something wrong with his sense of smell on Monday.
Other wrestlers from Hakuho’s Miyagino stable believed to have been in contact with the yokozuna will also undergo PCR tests.
Hakuho has been dealing with a knee injury and has not completed a tournament since March, when he won the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.
Record-breaking sumo champion Hakuho tests positive for Covid-19 just days before New Year tournamenthttps://t.co/7mI8Kxtmzh pic.twitter.com/rh7YmIyUqQ
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 5, 2021
The 15-day New Year meet will be the first competition since Hakuho — as well as fellow yokozuna Kakuryu — received official warnings from the JSA following repeated injury related absences and withdrawals at recent tournaments. The warning is the sport’s strongest rebuke, short of recommending retirement.
Hakuho had been participating in joint training sessions at Ryogoku Kokugikan last month to prepare for his comeback.
Gyōji (referee) Kimura Motoki also tested positive on Monday after complaining of a fever and cough. Member of his Minato stable, including maegashira Ichinojo, were to take PCR tests as a precaution.
On Friday, the association announced a cluster infection at Arashio stable including Arashio stablemaster (the former Sokokurai), maegashira Wakatakakage, jūryō division wrestler Wakamotoharu, eight lower-division trainees and a hairdresser.
So far, the JSA hasn’t said whether the tournament will be postponed or otherwise impacted as a result of the recent positive tests or the potential state of emergency that is being evaluated for the greater Tokyo area.