In a move that could draw sharp criticism, the Japan Sumo Association will continue paying monthly salaries to all wrestlers and elders, including three identified as having been involved in match-fixing, even though the March tournament has been canceled.
The three are Chiyohakuho, Kiyoseumi and Takenawa. Chiyohakuho and Kiyoseumi are wrestlers in the second-tier juryo division, while Takenawa is a sumo elder formerly known as Kasuganishiki of the elite makuuchi division.
“We debated whether it is right to pay those involved,” JSA Chairman Hanaregoma said Wednesday. “But we decided to pay them because we haven’t decided what penalties they will face.”
The JSA held a board meeting Wednesday to discuss administrative matters stemming from the cancellation of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, which had been scheduled to begin March 13 in Osaka.
Sumo elders are relieved that the JSA will continue to pay monthly salaries and bear housing and development expenses even though the tournament was canceled.
“I’m very thankful for the JSA’s decision,” said elder Shibatayama.
“I’ve told my wrestlers that ordinary people don’t get paid if they don’t work, so they have to be thankful and do their best in whatever work is given.”
JSA board member Tomozuna, meanwhile, expressed skepticism about paying money even to Chiyohakuho and lower-tier wrestler Enatsukasa, who have admitted to involvement in match-fixing.
“Whether to receive or return development funds will be up to sumo elders,” said the stablemaster of veteran ozeki Kaio.
Later Wednesday, the special investigative panel said it has held hearings with 33 of all 70 makuuchi- and juryo-division wrestlers, aside from the 14 implicated in match-fixing in text messages found by police on mobile phones, and there is no evidence so far that anyone else was involved.
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