• Kyodo

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Sumo’s sole grand champion, Hakuho, who withdrew from the recent Spring Grand Tournament with a knee injury, will remain subject to a stern warning over his repeated absences from competition, the sport’s governing body decided Monday.

At a regular meeting in Tokyo, the Japan Sumo Association’s yokozuna advisory body chose to uphold the warning it originally issued last November to Hakuho and fellow Mongolian-born grand champion Kakuryu, who has since retired.

Hakuho | KYODO
Hakuho | KYODO

The JSA agreed to make a final decision on the matter after the Summer Basho, which Hakuho has identified for his comeback following surgery on his troublesome right knee.

The 15-day March tourney concluded Sunday without a grand champion competing after both Hakuho and Kakuryu pulled out.

Kakuryu, who was missing from a fifth straight meet, announced his retirement from competition during the tournament.

Hakuho, the winner of a record 44 top-division titles, won his first two bouts but dropped out on Day 3 and later underwent endoscopic surgery to remove excess fluid from his swollen knee.

According to his stablemaster Miyagino, Hakuho views the July 4-18 meet at Dolphins Arena in Aichi Prefecture as make or break, and will decide whether or not to retire based on his performance there.

By July, Hakuho — the only current yokozuna following Kakuryu’s retirement — will have missed all or part of six straight meets, including the New Year tourney, which he was forced to skip due to a positive coronavirus test.

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