• Kyodo

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The Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which was scheduled to open May 10, will be postponed for two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japan Sumo Association decided Friday.

The JSA's board of directors decided to delay the opening of the 15-day meet at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, probably to May 24. The start of the July tournament in Nagoya will also be pushed back two weeks.

JSA chairman Hakkaku said the sport's governing body will aim to hold next month's meet under regular conditions, but added that it may be held without spectators or canceled altogether depending on the state of the outbreak — which has caused suspension or cancellation of sporting events around the world.

"Today we just rescheduled the two tournaments, but we can't say anything more as the situation is changing day by day," he said," a JSA spokesman told AFP.

The Spring Basho, held last month in Osaka, took place without a crowd, the wrestlers surrounded by just a handful of judges in the empty arena.

It was broadcast live as usual on national TV, allowing viewers to hear sounds normally drowned out by the crowd, such as the wrestlers slapping their bellies and scraping their feet on the clay.

During that tournament, all wrestlers had their temperature checked twice a day as some rituals were amended, including the traditional ladle of water that a winning wrestler offers to the next wrestler in the ring.

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

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