There’s a lot of sports action to catch up with from this weekend. Here are just some of the biggest stories as seen from Japan, with the rest to come in T5s throughout the week:
- Takakeisho began his bid for promotion to sumo’s highest rank of yokozuna with an opening-day defeat at the New Year Basho on Sunday. A total of 65 wrestlers are sitting out the tournament due to coronavirus infections, including yokozuna Hakuho. Predicting what might happen at the virus-hit basho is anyone’s guess, but John Gunning gives it a jolly good try.
- The new state of emergency is set to substantially impact sporting events across Japan, reports Kaz Nagatsuka. Controversially, Japanese rugby is opting not to curtail attendance for its first two rounds of Top League games, including one key contest for which more than 20,000 tickets have been sold. Basketball, volleyball and horse racing events, however, will be affected.
- The time just wasn’t right for star pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano, who failed to sign a contract with a major-league team and will remain with the Yomiuri Giants, the team said Friday. Given a market where he apparently didn’t get a deal he liked and an offseason upended by the coronavirus, it’s not hard to see why Sugano chose another year with the Kyojin, writes Jason Coskrey.
- Former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo reacted with shock, grief and gratitude in the wake of the loss of Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who died Thursday aged 93. Lasorda, who won two World Series titles during his 20 years as the Dodgers skipper, managed Nomo starting in 1995 and played a big part in his MLB success, which opened doors for Japanese players in the U.S.
- The B. League announced Saturday night that its All-Star festivities, slated for the weekend of Jan. 15-16 in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, have been canceled after local authorities denied the league permission to hold the event, Nagatsuka reports. Dejected Japanese basketball fans in need of a pick-me-up could do worse than track down highlights of the Washington Wizards’ narrow defeat to the Miami Heat on Saturday, in which Japanese ace Rui Hachimura matched his NBA season high by securing 17 points.