All Tamanoi Beya Rikishi to Keep their Ranks

Remember the story of Tamanoi beya? It suffered a coronavirus outbreak shortly before the Aki basho, with many rikishi and staff testing positive, and all 28 rikishi in the heya were made to go kyujo for the entire September tournament as a precaution. This raised the question of what would happen to their positions on the banzuke: would the absences be treated as losses, as they normally are, meaning large drops in rank, or would special dispensation be given? At the time, the NSK said this issue would be considered after the basho.

Well, we have our answer. As could be inferred from the announcement of the Juryo promotions, everyone will keep their place, including the two sekitori, J7 Azumaryu and J14 Fujiazuma, and one resident of the Makushita promotion zone (Ms1-Ms5), Ms2 Shiraishi. I know there was a difference of opinion about how this should be handled, but personally I believe this was the right thing to do under the exceptional circumstances.

Here’s the story on NHK; it’s in Japanese, but you can get the gist with Google Translate.

17 thoughts on “All Tamanoi Beya Rikishi to Keep their Ranks

  1. I agree it seems fair and that these are exceptional circumstances.

    However, I guess it does potentially create a perverse incentive for a wrestler/heya who would like to take a tournament off whilst still maintaining their rank to deliberately contract covid!

  2. I’m hopeful (but not holding my breath) that this may open the door to other special cases involving one-off absences like for a broken bone or cases of hard falls like Kizakiumi. It won’t but I’m hopeful.

    • They are really two different issues. In this case, the rikishi were not injured and could have competed but were prevented by the NSK. In any concept of natural justice, the NSK could not then penalize them for that. It doesn’t set a precedent for injured rikishi, who are open to compete but unable to. I agree, it would be nice!

      • Yeah it’s clear that this is a one-off special case as far as the NSK goes. Also, in this case it’s a clean one-basho absence after which they should be fully fit to participate; many injuries that would necessitate a withdrawal would take longer to treat/heal/rehab properly.

    • It’s “beya” when it follows the name, “heya” when used on its own. Someone with better Japanese skills can explain why.

      • I don’t know all the ins and outs of the heya/beya thing but the process is called “rendaku”. It’s the same kind of thing that made me give up trying to learn Irish. As I thought at the time “this may be the language of my ancestors but if the consonants are going to go wriggling about like that I’ll stick with boring old Anglo-Saxon”.

        I suppose that keeping all the Tamanoi lads at their previous ranks was the least bad option, but it might be difficult to explain that to Naya. He must also be thinking “Kotoshogiku, Shohozan, Ikioi, couldn’t just one of you guys have decided to hang up that mawashi?”

        • It’s some sort of voiced/unvoiced consonant thing, same as seki/zeki.

          Naya definitely hasn’t had much banzuke luck. Someone noted that his results haven’t been all that different from Hoshoryu’s, and they started at the same time, but one is in Makuuchi and the other is still stuck in Makushita. He ought to be Ms1w next time I recon, where even a 4-3 should seem him promoted, barring more really bad banzuke luck.

      • it’s really a super common thing in japanese specifically when you built compound words, but its not restricted to that (e.g. tokidoki, hitobito, kuniguni aren’t compound words). I think there aren’t any formal rules on when rendaku applies or not, it just makes it easier/smoother to speak.

  3. I think it’s a very difficult decision, but I don’t disagree with it. For the most part and most rikishi it makes no difference, if they are ranked half a rank higher or not, even if lets say the difference was the promotion from Sandanme to Makushita, I think it has very little practical impact.
    The critical cases are the Juryo/Makushita borderline (since there is noone in Sanyaku or Makuuchi). Azumaryu is in no mans land. So it basically comes down to whether or not Fujiazuma would have reached 8 wins or not. There is a theoretical case, that he shortened the distance to the cliff for everyone in Juryo by half a rank, but I think both Kitaharima and Daishoho did enough on their own account to get demoted in any case.
    Shiraishi kinda blocks one of the spots in the elusive top10 Makushita, which is near mandatory for any promotion to Juryo.
    Unlucky for Naya, but personally I think putting Chiyonoumi ahead of him was way more unlucky. After all it would be relatively surprising if Fujiazuma stays in Juryo past the November basho. He was a Makuuchi regular from 2011-14, but before returning to Juryou after the Osaka Basho (to J11 with a 5-2 record from Ms3w … Hello Naya;-) ), he spent 3 years in Makushita without missing any bouts. Maybe he had some minor injuries, but he seems to be behind his sekitori days.

    • Yeah I think Naya not getting to Juryo is the main negative impact. Azumaryu would have gone down with an 0-0-15, but it’s hard to see him getting demoted from M7 had he been able to enter, and it’s not like Kotodaigo made a strong case.
      In terms of Shiraishi, I was kinda struggling to come up with 10 names for the Makushita joi as it is. I’m guessing the following, which is scraping the bottom of the barrel already for the last couple of spots: Daishoho, Naya, Kotodaigo, Kitaharima, Shiraishi, Terasawa, Yago, Bushozan, Chiyoarashi, Kotokuzan.

      • Takakento at Ms8e with 4 wins has a decent case for promotion into the top 10, historically speaking, so either him or Kotokuzan will probably miss out and it would only potentially make a difference if they go kachikoshi again next basho. Anyways, Shiraishi had only one makekoshi in his career so far and he made his way up there with two consecutive 6-1 basho, so I’m glad he gets his chance to fight for promotion next time.

          • Yeah, I checked that too. It seems really rare though, especially recently, so I guess they will rather end up in the Ms6-8 range.

          • I stopped trying to compile Makushita joi predictions when some time a few years ago they decided to drastically change things in the area, and make all movements smaller than they historically had been. I don’t have a prediction of my own, but I’d say that 3-4 Ms3 -> Ms5 is not too big of a leap of imagination given what they had started doing back then.

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