The Japan Sumo Association decided Thursday to abolish its “official withdrawal” system for wrestlers, starting from January’s New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo.

The system allows a severely injured wrestler to retain his ranking for the following tournament even if he completely sits out that tourney so long as the injury is judged to have occurred as a result of an official bout.

But the system, which was launched in the 1972 January tournament, has been used too easily by “not so seriously” injured wrestlers. Association chairman Kitanoumi said, “That system did not exist before.

“I hope wrestlers will beef up their physical strength from the ground up.”

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