Sumo

Japan Sumo Association preparing to cancel Summer Basho

KYODO

The Japan Sumo Association is making arrangements to cancel the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which was scheduled to open May 24, due to the coronavirus pandemic, multiple official sources said Sunday.

The JSA has said its decision to hold or cancel the 15-day event at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan would consider the government's position. But with Japan's state of emergency now likely to be extended to the end of May, it has become increasingly difficult to hold the tournament as planned.

According to one source, the JSA's board of directors will make a formal decision on Monday once it receives word that the state of emergency will be extended. It would be the third cancellation in history and the first since the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament was shelved in 2011 because of a match-fixing scandal.

In order to help stem the spread of the virus, this year's spring tournament, staged in March in Osaka, became the first in history to be held behind doors. The tourney took place with the understanding it would be suspended should any wrestler or JSA member test positive for the virus.

On April 7, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures. Nine days later, the order was extended to the entire nation.

As of Sunday, seven people within the JSA have tested positive for the pneumonia-causing virus, including stablemaster Takadagawa, second-tier wrestler Hakuyozan and five lower-ranked wrestlers.

"The situation is radically different from the spring tourney," a senior association executive said. "People within the association have now become infected. We can't hope to stage the summer tourney."

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