Injury-plagued yokozuna Kakuryu may have to withdraw from a fifth straight meet, this one being the upcoming Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, because of a left leg injury, his stablemaster Michinoku said Thursday.

Kakuryu, who has long been dealing with elbow and lower back pain, said last week he would take part in the 15-day meet, which gets under way Sunday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, a move needed to avoid recommendations for forced retirement.

In November, the 35-year-old Mongolian-born wrestler and fellow yokozuna Hakuho were “warned” over their lack of participation in recent competitions by the Japan Sumo Association’s yokozuna advisory body.

The stern warning has never before been issued to a top-ranked wrestler, and it is second only to a retirement recommendation in severity.

Meanwhile, Hakuho, who was forced to sit out the New Year Basho because of a pre-tournament coronavirus diagnosis, said Thursday he is ready to compete this weekend and resume his chase to extend his career championship total to 45.

Hakuho has not competed since the 12th day of the July tourney last year. He had endoscopic surgery on his right knee the following month.

Kakuryu sat out the last three tournaments entirely after withdrawing from the July Basho on the second day. Should he pull out of the spring meet, it will be the 20th time in his career he misses all or part of a tournament.

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