Ozeki Asanoyama will sit out the remainder of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament after admitting he broke Japan Sumo Association coronavirus safety guidelines, a source with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday.
The 27-year-old wrestler, who currently has a 7-4 record, was questioned by the association for a second time on Wednesday regarding a report on weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun’s website that described his infractions.
The report alleged Asanoyama dined out with others prior to the tournament at a time when association members were under orders to stay home. According to the JSA’s director of communications, sumo elder Shibatayama, Asanoyama denied doing so when first questioned by the JSA’s compliance chief.
A source familiar with the matter, however, said the ozeki revised his stance upon further questioning on Wednesday.
Ozeki who fail to win eight bouts in a tournament — a fate that now appears likely for Asanoyama — are referred to as kadoban ozeki and are in jeopardy of relegation to the sport’s third-highest rank, sekiwake, should they fail to win eight bouts in the following grand tournament.
Last July, Abi, then a wrestler in the elite makuuchi division, was found to have repeatedly broken the association’s guidelines both before and during that month’s tournament. He was suspended for three tournaments, and received a 50% pay cut for five months.
Another makuuchi division wrestler, Ryuden, is sitting out this tournament after running afoul of the coronavirus guidelines.
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