Coronavirus Fears Affect Osaka Sumo Events

The Coronavirus precautions are starting to hit sumo events. Fan service or “Fansa” events are important forms of outreach in the sumo world. Many stables rely on them for fund-raising, as does the Kyokai itself. A baby holding photo event, scheduled for February 25, is being cancelled. As Herouth reports, a public practice involving the Nishinoseki Ichimon is being cancelled as well. There are some fears that the Osaka tournament itself — and even the Olympics — will be cut back or cancelled outright.

Worldwide, search interest in Corona Virus rose during the final week of Hatsubasho and peaked in the days just after senshuraku. Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak, was subjected to severe travel restrictions on Wednesday the 23rd as the yusho race was heating up. This international interest in the topic hit its highest when the WHO declared a global health emergency (reversing their decision from the prior week) and many airlines cut revenue service to the Chinese mainland. However, the subsequent days have seen a swift decline in search interest.

This trend has not been replicated in Japan, however, as stories of taxi drivers testing positive for the virus hit the media and a quarantined cruise ship sits in its waters. The trend below is for Google searches of Corona Virus symptoms from Japan. As we see, that interest peaked within just the past few days so the issue is very present in Japan. February 5th corresponds to the start of the quarantine of the Diamond Princess. There’s a bit of a surge in the search popularity with that news with interest sustained over the subsequent days but really peaking with the first Coronavirus death in Japan and two taxi drivers testing positive for the virus on the 12th.

The Diamond Princess will being releasing passengers beginning today. No doubt that will lead to more stories and hyper vigilance in Japan, and perhaps another surge in searches. Passengers will get a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test in order to be released and the process will continue over several days as it will take days to get the results. Hopefully, that will assuage some fears about the outbreak.

One potential silver lining…could fewer fansa obligations improve Tokushoryu’s chances in Osaka? Tamawashi won Hatsu 2019 and followed that 13-2 performance with a 5-10 stinker. Both of his tournaments were fought at Sekiwake and the projected stronger schedule facing Tokushoryu will require him to be ready.

15 thoughts on “Coronavirus Fears Affect Osaka Sumo Events

  1. I’d be very surprised if the Osaka tournament was cancelled – and certainly hope it isn’t. I’m meant to be there on Day 2 and will be in Osaka for around a week. Hopefully the situation can be contained.

  2. Olympics won’t be canceled… come on. I know this is serious but the panic is crazy. Unless that’s not what the article meant. Maybe they meant the sumo event before or after the Olympics. But the games won’t be canceled.

    • The article meant what it said. But it’s not like it’s being cancelled right now. The IOC position at the moment is that it goes on as planned. But there was a sport personality appearing on TV, following the changes that were made to the Tokyo Marathon (limiting it to elite runners only), who said that if the trend continues, there would be a need to cancel the Olympic games – and he mentioned Haru basho as a secondary example.

      • I’m very surprised at the panic this whole thing is causing. Reminds me of 2009, when I married and I went to Japan for our honeymoon, the panic for H1N1 was off the charts, they measured our body temperature before entering Tokyo at Narita airport and everyone has their mouth covers, even more than usual. A month before that we went to Mexico City and every single person in the city had a mouth cover, the airport had a recording every 5 minutes saying to be careful of the virus. I felt like I was in a zombie movie.

        Still, going all the way to saying the Olympics can be canceled is just insane to me, as tiger just said, if by August the virus is actually dangerous enough to the point where they cancel the Olympics then that means the Olympics will be the least of out worries at that point, because Tokyo is one of the safest and cleanest cities in the world and if they can’t contain it then it’ll be hard for anyone else to do so.

        Still, I think the chance of the Olympics to be canceled by the corona virus are as likely as the World Cup in two years to be canceled by WW3. Seriously, I just don’t see it happening, the virus is a horrible thing but it sounds even worse from all the way over here in the other side of the world when all out information about it is CNN and their constant clickbait. NHK is even worse, they talk about the virus as a dragonball villain or something. “The virus has entered phase 3!!!! NNNANNNIIIIIII!!!!!!!”

        Again, do not confuse my comments with not caring, I do and it is horrible, but if you went by the NHK alone, who only talks about deaths and not recoveries, you wouldn’t even leave your house to do groceries.

        Now, if the Olympic Games were held a week from now, that would be a whole different story. I’m not sure if they could be held atm or what they would do, I feel a lot of people would boycott.

        • Nobody knows how this is going to unfold – even the best doctors. Plans at this point are worthless, but planning is essential for events like the Olympics. I would not be surprised to discover that the Olympic committee and the Japanese host government are at least discussing what they might do if there is a broad impact from Covid-19 or anything else this summer.

          But it would have to be a pretty big impact to “call off” the competition in August.

          • And there could be all kinds of preventative measures and half steps but the last thing the Kyokai will want is empty seats because people are afraid to attend. Well, maybe that’s the next-to-last. The last thing they’ll want is someone to actually catch the coronavirus from ome of their events, especially a child or elderly person who would be more likely to succumb.

          • Italy just called off 3 Seria A matches and Italy has way less infections than Japan, but unlike Japan they admit that they lost track of the infection a bit.
            Influenza is very seasonal, but it’s not known yet if that would be true for corona too. Japan so far isn’t exactly a shining light of cleverness in treating the virus, so unless it naturally dissapears, it’s fairly likely that in 5-6month time it will be fairly widespread. I think the olympics are at a far higher risk than Osaka. We could get lucky though that the chinese are just crushing any timeline for vaccines and treatment.

  3. I think the basho will go ahead but we will see some extra safety measures and wall-to-wall facemasks in the crowd. The J-League soccer starts this weekend and I haven’t seen any plans for postponement. If the virus is still raging in August than the Olympics will be the least of worries.

    • doubt it, if a rikishi gets the virus they’ll just telll him to tough it up and if it’s to the point where his life is threatened they might get him an oversized 1500’s wheelchair to transport him out to the street.

  4. Looking forward to a rikishi winning a bout by transmitting the virus to his aite and the announcement “Kimarite wa COVID-19 desu”.

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