The Mongolian economy is facing crisis. Its currency, the tugrik, has fallen against the dollar for 18 days straight. Given such a high Mongolian presence in sumo, and the fact that former Yokozuna Asashoryu is an active businessman in Mongolia, this will have an effect on the sport. For one thing, there will likely be less kenshokin and sponsorship money coming from Mongolian firms – and that will likely hit the top Mongolian wrestlers hardest. It may turn more Mongolians to the sport, not immediately but down the road, as unemployment increases. Apparently, rather than default on debts, public salaries and investment are on the chopping block.
It’s not a good situation but may be a sign of broader economic issues. The slide comes from Mongolia’s dependence on the Chinese and Russian markets in particular for commodities, like copper. Falling Chinese demand has brought lower global prices, hitting Mongolia hard. Landlocked, there aren’t easy routes to other external markets. Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mongolian sumo feed gets cut.