Some highlights and lowlights from the weekend in sport as seen from Japan, and a couple of things we couldn’t squeeze into T5 last week:
- No. 1 maegashira Daieisho clinched his maiden top-division championship Sunday at the sumo New Year Basho with a victory over fellow rank-and-file grappler Okinoumi. Daieisho finished the 15-day tournament in Tokyo — the first to be held under a state of emergency — with a 13-2 record. And those are not the only firsts for the 35-year-old from Saitama.
- The Japan Rugby Football Union has revealed the revamped format and schedule for the 2021 Top League season, Kaz Nagatsuka reports. The season was supposed to begin Jan. 16 but was postponed after some teams saw COVID-19 outbreaks. Last week, the league announced the total number of positive cases was 68.
- Nippon Professional Baseball is hoping to get back to a 143-game season this year even with COVID-19 still hanging around, Nagatsuka reports. Also last week, The Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed two more members, with Katsuji Kawashima, who managed Japan during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and author Kazuo Sayama making up the class of 2021, reports Jason Coskrey.
- The Japan Association of Athletics Federations announced its award recipients for the 2020 season on Thursday, with long-distance track runner Hitomi Niiya capturing the Athlete of the Year accolade, writes Nagatsuka. Watch out for Niiya and the other award-winners at the Tokyo Olympics (fingers crossed).
- FIBA Asia said Friday that the third and final window of Japan’s Asia Cup qualifying group has been moved from Tokyo — which is under a state of emergency — to Doha. The B. League, meanwhile, was forced to abandon the annual All-Star Game due to the pandemic —although it didn’t completely give up offering entertainment for its fans, as the prolific Nagatsuka reports.