JSA undecided on whether to allow Asashoryu to travel back to Mongolia

Kyodo News

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu, who has been diagnosed with a mild case of depression after being suspended from the next two grand sumo tournaments, is still in limbo as to whether he will be granted permission to travel back to his homeland to avoid any further emotional breakdown.

Stable master Takasago, who met with Asashoryu for the first time since he received the punishment last Wednesday, suggested Monday that the Japan Sumo Association is carefully considering the yokozuna’s mental condition.

“He appeared totally wiped out,” Takasago said after holding a 20-minute meeting with Asashoryu at the grand champion’s Tokyo home. “He was just staring off into space and would mainly just nod (whenever I would ask him questions) without saying much.”

When asked whether Asashoryu will be permitted to return to Mongolia to refresh his spirit as recommended by a psychiatrist who examined him on Sunday, Takasago said the JSA is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“We can’t give a quick response to that matter. We have to wait a bit longer and continue to observe the situation,” he said. “I told him, ‘You have to fight a little more. I’ll be fighting for you too.” ‘

Takasago said further that the JSA was bringing in another psychiatrist to examine Asashoryu and offer a second opinion, at the recommendation of its own medical committee.

“If he has the same symptoms, we will discuss this with JSA Chairman Kitanoumi.”

Takasago also said while the JSA is considering allowing Asashoryu to return to Mongolia, it will also propose having the yokozuna’s parents and family visit him in Japan.

Asashoryu was suspended from the Kyushu meet in September and the autumn meet in November after it was discovered that he played in a charity soccer match in Mongolia, despite having cited injuries that allowed him to sit out the ongoing regional summer tour.

He has also been restricted to his house until the final day of the autumn meet on Nov. 25 and is not permitted to go out and socialize as part of the punitive measure.