Tokyo 2020 Olympics Delayed Due To Global Pandemic

Reports from Tokyo today that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee have agreed to postpone this year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The hope is to re-schedule the games for the summer of 2021, provided the threat of COVID-19 has been controlled by then. This move marks the biggest pandemic triggered postponement or cancellation in the world of sports to date, and comes on the heels of multiple national olympic teams requesting cancelation or postponement of the games. This is a huge blow to Japan, that has spent billions of Yen preparing for the games, building stadiums and venues, and Japanese businesses across the country, who had been gearing up for the massive influx of world tourists to enjoy the games.

For the world of sumo, it’s open knowledge that Yokozuna Hakuho was seeking to crown his matchless career with a ceremonial dohyo-iri at the Tokyo games this summer, after which it was expected he would retire. With the delay of the Olympics until next year, this throws the entire time table into doubt. Hakuho boosters would rightly reply, “Well, he can just stay in the sport and continue to dominate”. But as we saw at the end of Haru, Hakuho was physically struggling, though he continued to dominate. Sumo is an intense, combat driven sport, and the damage to the human body of years of competition is cumulative. We can imagine that Hakuho’s skill has not decreased on bit, but his body may be telling him that he is nearly done. The sumo public has no insight to just what challenges he faces every day he competes.

Team Tachiai hopes the re-scheduled Olympics in 2021 take place in a period of celebration as the world emerges from the pandemic, and the public across the globe turn to international sporting competition with hope and enthusiasm.

13 thoughts on “Tokyo 2020 Olympics Delayed Due To Global Pandemic

  1. This is crazy, not that long ago you and me were discussing the possibility of this and I was dead set that they would not be canceled. You told me it was a possibility and I remember clearly saying no way it would happen. I am amazed it ended up happening, I was so wrong.

    I do remember saying “if the Olympics are canceled or postponed, it means the Olympics will be the least of our worries” and on that front I think we are all probably on the same mindset, I am so worried about everything that’s going on right now, the virus, the money, my family, my parents who are older and can’t see their grandkids, etc. That the Olympics just seem like… bleh.

    But I would really be sad if the May basho is canceled though, I (and here I go again) don’t think it will, because march was a success and if they could replicate that, why not? However, if sumo has to be canceled even in May, then again, sumo is probably going to be the least of my worries.

    Oh well, I feel like I am living in a movie.

    Congratulations to Hakuho by the way, I absolutely loved March basho, it had a bit of everything!

  2. It strikes me that if an Olympic appearance was his primary motivator for holding off retirement, his options now are either to hang in even longer or go even sooner. Thus the Olympic postponement could perhaps hasten his retirement. I don’t see much value in staying, say, six months and then calling it quits. He’d miss the Olympics anyway. But only Hakuho can know what his goals really are. Maybe he’s happy to do another six months of regular sumo stuff.

    • In the afterglow of his last yusho, Hakuho was talking about continuing to compete until he had piled up 50 yusho. He later recanted that effusion. So, the lesson is: Discount anything Hakuho says on this subject in the near future.

    • I noticed a distinct change in Hakuho’s demeanour after his victories — not triumphant and confident, no smirk after narrow escapes or satisfaction at dominant performances — just pained and grim. I bet if it was just a question of when to end his career he’d hang up his brown honbasho mawashi and see if the NSK dislikes him enough to come up with an excuse not to offer him ichidai-toshiyori status, but I believe he won’t want to leave Kakuryu to shoulder the burden of being the sole yokozuna if he can avoid it.

          • What is this?! 2019?!?!?!? Going over the cliff together like Thelma and Loise? yes, HOLDING HANDS?!?!? ewww the virus, social distancing, le them go over together but have Kak sit on the back seat.

  3. He has easily earned 6-7 tournaments kyujo to be able to perform the Dohyo-iri as dai-yokozuna.

    • It was never even confirmed that the Olympic organizers would have a dohyo-iri for him to take part in, and who knows what the one-year(?) delay will do to any plans they do have for the opening ceremony; depending on how the corona situation ends up working out for the world the ceremony may be looking a lot differently than currently expected.

    • Also, no, that’s not how it works. He’s still a rikishi first and foremost and doesn’t get to take time off simply to facilitate stuff that has nothing to do with ozumo. Some credible effort at maintaining an on-dohyo career will be expected if he wants to make it to July 2021 or whenever.

      • You seem to state that he needs to compete every day of every tournament for the next 18 months. I simply don’t believe that to be true.
        You really think the JSA will start to put pressure on him to retire if he goes Kyujo for a tournament or two? Comes back goes 15 days, takes a yusho or at least 10 wins, then takes another 1-2 tournaments off, comes back, does 15 days?

        How long did they let Kisenosato be Kyujo without any push to retire? 10 out of his last 11 tournaments he was partially or fully absent.

        So, yes, that does seem to be how it works.

        As for the Olympic ceremony. Correct, we don’t know, and maybe Hakuho now decides it is not worth it to wait around to find out.

        • I think he will be suggested to retire, if he is just dragging things out without results. If he had an injury and was to sit out a year, that might be a different story. They gave Kisenosato the chance to heal, albeit too late, so they would offer it to Hakuho too I guess. They main point however is that Hakuho has pride and a lot of that and I don’t think he just wants to drag along without any real chance of another victory. I’m pretty sure that once he knows, that he hasn’t anymore wins in himself, he will retire.

        • Well done both misrepresenting what I what wrote and completely moving the goalposts from your initial comment. I won’t bother here.

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