Today the NSK has announced that they will be holding the 2020 July Basho, which kicks off next Sunday, July 19th. They have also announced that audience members will be allowed to attend, albeit at a far reduced number at 2,500 (25% of the regular capacity). In preparation for the first fan attended Honbasho since Hatsu, the NSK has published a strick guideline to combat Covid-19 infection, which applies to both audience members, rikishi, and other association members.
Regulations for audience members:
- The Kokugikan will open at 1:00pm.
- Upon entering the Kokugikan, audience members will have their temperature checked and their hands disinfected. Mini disinfectants will be distributed.
- Spectators must wear masks, and keep eating and drinking to a minimum. Food sales and shopping opportunities will be limited.
- Only one spectator may sit in the 4 person masu boxes located in the first level of the Kokugikan.
- Spectators must sit 3 seats apart, and rows will be staggered to avoid sitting directly in front of each other. No one will be permitted to sit in the aisle seats.
- The Tamari seats that surround the dohyo will be vacant.
- Any fan service that would bring audience members into contact with rikishi are cancelled.
- Spectators are encouraged to show self-restraint, and applause is recommended instead of cheering.
Regulations for rikishi and other association members:
- Precautions put into place during the Haru Basho in March, such as temperature checks and hand sanitization, will continue to be followed.
- Masks are to be worn in the shitakubeya during preparation and warmups.
- Acrylic dividers will be used to separate each rikishi’s preparation area.
- The sumo school will be set up as an extra preparation space to avoid crowding.
- Markers will be placed along the hanamichi for rikishi, yobidashi, and gyoji to practice social distancing.
- Tokoyama are encouraged to do as much of their hairdressing as possible at the heya.
- Rikishi will remove their mask when they exit the shitakubeya and will put on a fresh mask after their match, before re-entering the preparation room.
It is through these precautions that the NSK hopes to prevent any spread of Covid-19 to association members and spectators alike. While this announcement somewhat clears up what the July Basho is going to look like, there still remain several details that haven’t been explained. For example, does the mask removal apply to yobidashi, or just when they are doing specific jobs like calling the rikishi? Will rikishi and shimpan be spread out or staggered around the dohyo? These questions and more may not get an answer until we see everything in motion come July 19th.