The Japan Sumo Association said Saturday five wrestlers who tested positive for COVID-19, and the two stables they belong to, will miss the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, which starts Sunday.

Four Kokonoe stable wrestlers and one from the Tomozuna stable tested positive after 878 wrestlers and stablemasters underwent polymerase chain reaction tests ahead of the 15-day meet at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan. A total of four stables will now skip the tournament due to infections among their wrestlers.

Chiyoshoma, a Mongolian No. 13 maegashira in the elite makuuchi division, and Chiyootori from the second-tier juryo ranks tested positive alongside two lower-division Kokonoe stablemates and another lower-ranked wrestler from the Tomozuna stable.

Mongolian-born yokozuna Hakuho’s Miyagino stable will also miss the meet after he tested positive on Tuesday, as will the Arashio stable, which was identified as the site of an infection cluster.

Top-division referee Motoki Kimura, affiliated with the Minato stable, also tested positive and will sit out the tournament.

The JSA this week ordered all wrestlers and stablemasters to be tested to ensure the safe and secure staging of the tournament in Tokyo, which is currently under a state of emergency.

The latest withdrawals took the number of absentees in the top two divisions to 16, a figure that includes yokozuna Kakuryu. The 35-year-old has lower-back issues and is withdrawing from a meet for the fourth straight time.

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