Do you feel it? With sumo done for now, it’s been a bit over 24 hours. No sumo video to watch, no commentary to write, no matches to preview. We are a bit more than a month away from the next banzuke, which will be for Aki, and there is a jungyo tour starting soon. But the work up for Aki has already started in some circles.
As is common after each basho, the Yokozuna Deliberation Council met to discuss the state of sumo. One could imagine that they would have quite a bit to say following a basho with zero Yokozuna participating on day 8, let alone day 15. The elephant in the room is, of course, the perpetually injured relic of Kisenosato, who sat out his 8th consecutive tournament since tearing his left pectoral muscle during Osaka 2017.
The the subject, the YDC took up the topic, and discussed encouraging him to participate in Aki, but decided to not take a stand or make any kind of recommendation. That’s it – no ultimatum, no guidance, no “hey, fatso, get your ass in the ring or get a haircut” statement at all. The NSK, under advisement from the YDC, are welcome to manage their talent however they choose to. But at this point the Kisenosato grows more comical with each passing basho. The damage that was done to his left chest muscles robbed him of his primary weapon. The extended break he has taken trying to heal has left him de-conditioned, most likely for good. The last time he tried any sumo, his footwork was all over the map, and he struggled to keep his upper body balanced.
I would love to see Kisenosato fight with strength and vigor once again, but that’s not going to happen. I suspect that soon he will make an appearance at a basho, knowing full well that it will be his last. He will enter it to go out “guns blazing” in a manner fitting a man who devoted his life to sumo. At some point Kisenosato’s pride and dignity will get the better of him, and he will chose his exit path.
I do recognize that there will be a YDC Soken conducted just before the Aki basho, along with health checks and a weigh in. It’s possible that the YDC will give clearer direction on the subject of Kisenosato at that time.