The Grand Sumo Tournament has gone ahead in Japan despite at least six wrestlers testing positive for Covid-19 Photo: JIJI PRESS/AFP/File
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Sumo wrestler quits, saying his coronavirus fears were ignored

38 Comments

A sumo wrestler in Japan said he had "no choice" but to quit the sport after his request to skip a tournament for fear of catching coronavirus was rejected.

The 22-year-old known as Kotokantetsu said the Japan Sumo Association had insisted he take part in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, which began on Sunday and lasts 15 days.

It has gone ahead in front of a reduced crowd despite at least six wrestlers -- including record-breaking champion Hakuho -- testing positive for the coronavirus last week.

"I had no choice but to compete or quit," Kotokantetsu said in a tweet announcing his resignation.

"The association said you can't stay away from the tournament just because you fear the coronavirus," added the wrestler, who competes in the second-lowest division.

He later said on YouTube he had previously undergone heart surgery and feared that infection would be a mortal danger.

The Japan Sumo Association declined to comment but its spokesman Shibatayama reportedly defended the decision.

"The association has taken safety measures. It does not stand to reason that you want to drop out of a tournament because you are afraid of the coronavirus," he said, according to public broadcaster NHK.

A 28-year-old sumo wrestler died in Japan last May after contracting COVID-19 and suffering multiple organ failures.

Japan is currently battling a record surge in coronavirus infections and the government declared a month-long state of emergency in and around Tokyo last week to try and slow the spread of the disease.

In line with government guidelines, around 5,000 fans are being admitted to the New Year Grand Sumo tournament -- about half the capacity of Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan arena.

© 2021 AFP

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38 Comments
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I lost a lot of respect for sumo when women weren't allowed to render first aid in the past. After this, I have no respect left for this organization.

53 ( +59 / -6 )

Hat off to the UFC!

They are testing each fighter at least 3 times before the fight, and if the fighter is positive, he is forbidden to fight.

Why is the Sumo Assosiation not doing the same thing?

I like Sumo a lot, I like all fighting sports, but to let someone fight who was just tested positive last week is completely irresponsible and ridicilous. (including record-breaking champion Hakuho -- testing positive for the coronavirus last week).

I really respect this young Sumo wrestlers decision.

11 ( +27 / -16 )

A 28-year-old sumo wrestler died in Japan last May after contracting COVID-19 and suffering multiple organ failures.

"The association has taken safety measures.

Then why did a 28 year old sumo wrestler die and 6 more contracted the disease.

It does not stand to reason that you want to drop out of a tournament because you are afraid of the coronavirus," he said, according to public broadcaster NHK.

IDIOTS

43 ( +45 / -2 )

This is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to the Olympics. Lip service and only lip service will be given to precautions. If the games go on, expect the same kind of incompetence and lack of transparency.

44 ( +46 / -2 )

In Japan it's always their way or the highway. Now we can add the Sumospreaders to the list of usual suspects. It may just be that this virus will shake things up a little in the Land of Wa.

34 ( +36 / -2 )

Sumo wrestler Kotokantetsu had previously undergone heart surgery and feared that infection would be a mortal danger.

"It does not stand to reason that you want to drop out of a tournament because you are afraid of the coronavirus.”—Japan Sumo Association spokesman Shibatayama

A 28-year-old sumo wrestler died in Japan last May after contracting COVID-19 and suffering multiple organ failures.

Potential death does not stand to reason?

30 ( +32 / -2 )

Bully culture in it’s finest form.

44 ( +47 / -3 )

Good for him. Policies remain policies because what I see on a micro-level is no one speaks up.

32 ( +34 / -2 )

Good on him. Running the upcoming basho is the definition of madness, and will likely result in deaths. Anyone who supports the basho is doing so purely for selfish reasons.

26 ( +30 / -4 )

I lost interest in Sumo after what happened with Takanohana. The Sumo association should be disbanded and a new one started from scratch.

22 ( +27 / -5 )

A sumo wrestler taking a stand! We need more people like him in this conformist culture.

43 ( +44 / -1 )

I lost a lot of respect for sumo when women weren't allowed to render first aid in the past. After this, I have no respect left for this organization.

Bully culture in it’s finest form.

We need more people like him in this conformist culture.

Their National sport, their culture, their RIGHT.. Stop crying..

-41 ( +3 / -44 )

They are testing each fighter at least 3 times before the fight, and if the fighter is positive, he is forbidden to fight.

Why is the Sumo Assosiation not doing the same thing?

That would require studies. Japan needs to do its own studies.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

LET'S GO TOCHINOSHIN !!!...

-22 ( +3 / -25 )

The association has taken safety measures. It does not stand to reason that you want to drop out of a tournament because you are afraid of the coronavirus,"

This is idiotic, they’ve had 65 infections so obviously their safety measures are ineffective. By definition this is a sport where social distancing is impossible.

Their National sport, their culture, their RIGHT.. Stop crying..

This is the probably stupidest argument I think I’ve ever seen. Doing a lousy job of controlling the Coronavirus is a protected cultural right of Japan now?

28 ( +30 / -2 )

"The association has taken safety measures. It does not stand to reason that you want to drop out of a tournament because you are afraid of the coronavirus," he said, according to public broadcaster NHK

Sumo is the ‘bully’ sport of Japan..

18 ( +20 / -2 )

The Sumo association rarely misses an opportunity to bring themselves into disrepute.

Some people may well be over-stating the risks of coronavirus; however, I think it's fair to say that an athlete in a full-contact sport where most of the competitors are grossly overweight (and therefore already at higher risk) who has recently had heart surgery, and where on of his co-workers has literally died, is entitled to say "nope".

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Their National sport, their culture, their RIGHT.. Stop crying..

Until people get sick and die, is it any cultures right to risk peoples lives during a pandemic all because of some cultural norms. Stop being such snowflakes all because somebody complains about something thats clearly putting peoples lives at risk. NO cultural norms dont get a free pass when it comes to covid19 60+ infections is proof that covid doesnt care, when people die is it their culture and their right not to cry!?

17 ( +18 / -1 )

@Lt. Winters you're on a website called Japantoday with an article about sumo and COVID, why would people need to comment about another country.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Hats of for the courage of this young man.let me state his name clearly : Kotokantetsu. To become a Sumo wrestler is to dedicate at least the 1st part of your life fully to a lifestyle not just a sport. The JSA should be proud of him but their reaction is sadly typical for them. This young man must be reinstated but doing so, behind the scenes, would probably see him bullied for the rest of his career. It is the JSA which should be punished by the Japan Sports Agency for this and they have the right new President Murofuji San. But does he remember enough stil , of his athletes days to stand up for Kotokantetsu San or has he already become too much political? But also the Japanese public outrage should at least lead to compensation for this courageous young man. But I am afraid there is little outrage with the Japanese public. Sad for sumo, sad for Japan.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Ridiculous. Some tournaments were canceled last year due to Covid. Now the situation is in Japan is even worse and tournaments are still being held? Can completely understand why this young wrestler felt he had not choice but to quit.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

It's hard to get a coronavirus test out of an abundance of caution.

When I suspected to have been in close contact with people infected with coronavirus who didn't wear a mask properly, I did my civic duty and called my local hospital to make an appointment for a test which then referred me to the national hotline and after a lengthy discussion they told me that if I have no symptoms I simply cannot get tested.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

That is all 99.9% tough and rough business, sometimes even violent and deadly, but surely not sports. The competitions held and viewed by the masses also are only the packaging not the contents. Sumo doesn’t differ in this regard to all other ‘professional sports’.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

i think this person in particular was a troublemker...

-22 ( +0 / -22 )

Totally ditto Paul. Takanohana saw the -need- for the sumo world to not give up their values, but adapt to Japan as it is today. The association done him wrong!

With exceptions, young people in Japan today do not care about sumo nor watch it

I remember when we saw good matches. By majority, most today are tsuppari/oshizumo. Boring. Yotsuzumo is sooo much better.

The bouts should be in the evening; at least the juryo and makenouchi.
4 ( +5 / -1 )

This culture of sacrifice, as he has rejected. .why knowingly put your life at risk. For sport? So old men again make money when they really should be retired. An official Kamakazi attitude that pervades so many things. You don't have to die for an outdated ideal.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

In Japan it's always their way or the highway. Now we can add the Sumospreaders to the list of usual suspects

Indeed, the idiocy and arrogance of the JSA bigwigs is off the charts....then again, maybe  if the tournament finishes by 8pm before virus starts its official workshift than its all dandy ...safety guaranteed.

Their National sport, their culture, their RIGHT.. Stop crying..

This is the probably stupidest argument I think I’ve ever seen. Doing a lousy job of controlling the Coronavirus is a protected cultural right of Japan now?"

Absolutely agree....perhaps they can apply to list this  " unique Japanese anti corona way & mindo "  as cultural heritage with UNESCO. I can see " Aso sensei " nominating this.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It does not stand to reason that you want to drop out of a tournament because you are afraid of the coronavirus

64 infected means their safety precautions failed. JSA is a disgrace to the art of Sumo.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

When I suspected to have been in close contact with people infected 

Was it just a suspicion or were you sure the person was infected?

If just a suspicion, with no symptoms, it is certain the health center will not make a move. In that case, private clinics will help you, after confirming your wallet content

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just when you think sumo can go no lower in a bid to save the dying sport, you get the JSA demanding people face potential death so they can line their pockets a little more. This sport should be shut down completely and forgotten. Let the ritual of ring purification and what not go back to its roots, and these old dinosaurs get in the ring themselves, massless and sweaty and handling each other, if they're in such a rush to see people die.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

It’s ‘safe’ because the Association said so. Don’t dare to disagree. Your opinion, no matter how rational and valid, is not required.

This situation will be mirrored gazillions of times throughout many companies every day. Old man says so, so that’s that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@kentarogaijin

You seem obsessed with crying.

Anyway, this news article just underlines the ignorance towards Coronavirus in Japan.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good on him standing up to bullying.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

They really are putting money before safety ....even the basketball games were packed just a couple of weeks ago.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It has gone ahead in front of a reduced crowd despite at least six wrestlers -- including record-breaking champion Hakuho -- testing positive for the coronavirus last week.

This is shear utter madness! what a bunch of irresponsible idiots, really these event organisers should be held responsible for any spreading of this disease, as they are totally complicit. they have to look at possibly long term health problems, and be even accountable for someones death.

"I had no choice but to compete or quit," Kotokantetsu said in a tweet announcing his resignation.

Well hes a brave person to say this, I have more respect for him than I have for the sumo organisation.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Hats of for the courage of this young man.let me state his name clearly : Kotokantetsu. 

His real name is Daisuke Yanagihara of Shiga. He joined sumo aged 15 and has spent 7 years and 46 basho mired in the bottom three divisions for a 131-171 record.

A brave move to make as his prospects outside the sumo world are slim. Hopefully, he has support. Good luck to him.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well, soon there may be no tournaments to arrange, as there may be no wrestlers left - thanks to JSA and their ignorance towards the virus.

Kudos to Kotokantetsu. He made the right choice.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"The association said you can't stay away from the tournament just because you fear the coronavirus,"

In other words. your life means less than the money in our pockets.

"The association has taken safety measures."

I'm sure a few more people have those clear mouth guards (that prevent nothing) and that someone in the office saw some kind of youtube video that vaguely mentioned something briefly about an opinion on what coronavirus is, last April. In other words, not one legitimate safety measure was taken.

A 28-year-old sumo wrestler died in Japan last May after contracting COVID-19 and suffering multiple organ failures.

AND

Japan is currently battling a record surge in coronavirus infections and the government declared a month-long state of emergency in and around Tokyo last week to try and slow the spread of the disease.

"Meh, don't worry. The sumo world is different, it won't affect us" says any of the suits in the sumo office.

In line with government guidelines, around 5,000 fans are being admitted to the New Year Grand Sumo tournament -- about half the capacity of Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan arena.

That's fine. A dying sport with archaic leadership and ideas. It's only a matter of time till they need just 500 tickets to satisfy their fans.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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