This thread emerged a few days ago on Twitter thanks to Tachiai’s own Herouth. A rikishi, ranked Makushita or below, tested positive for COVID-19 in the pre-basho work up. On Saturday the 5th, this rikishi, from an unnamed large stable, reported feeling unwell. He was sent to a local infirmary for an antigen test, which returned positive.
On the back of that, the entire heya was tested, and now we know the results of that sweep. NSK spokesman Shibatayama has only reported “several more” confirmed cases of COVID in the same heya, but it appears that not all of the PCR tests have been resolved by the lab at the time of this report. It is expected that more details will be published when the scope and severity of the situation is better understood. Shibatayama remarked that “some of the cases are symptomatic, some are not. None of the rikishi are showing severe symptoms”.
As of now, we are 4 days before of the Aki Basho, and it’s unknown how the Sumo Association will handle this outbreak. Options range from canceling the basho, to moving ahead with that entire heya being kyujo, or the quite unlikely proceeding as planned with only rikishi who test positive declared kyujo. Should the heya turn out to be something like Kokonoe, Sadogatake or even Isegahama, it would throw chaos into scheduling and matches across most divisions.
We will continue to follow this story, and thanks again to Herouth.