Hello dear readers. Sumo fans around the world are waiting to see what steps, if any, the Japanese government will take in response to a request from several prefecture governors (including Tokyo’s Yuriko Koike) to call for a state of emergency in the face of a steady increase in COVID cases in the metropolitan area. The prior declaration, in March, signaled the cancellation of the Natsu basho in May, and Team Tachiai worries that something similar could happen for Natsu 2021.
In response, the sumo association has stated their commitment to move ahead with Hatsu, even if they are required to do so without spectators. The prospect of another “silent basho” is not one that anyone looks forward to, but it may be the sole alternative. Some may rightfully suggest it would be safer to simply cancel Hatsu all together and make sure nobody gets COVID-19 because of a sumo tournament. But this is tempered by the belief that the NSK is currently in a serious financial bind, with it’s only way to raise funds being to conduct sumo tournaments.
In the days leading up to the start of the basho, both dai-Yokozuna Hakuho and rising star Wakatakakage have been diagnosed with COVID. Now comes word that all of Miyagino heya will likewise be kyujo, removing Ishiura, Enho and a variety of other fan favorites from competition.
Meanwhile, the NSK presses ahead working to prepare the dohyo for competition, as shown in the twitter video below.
Team Tachiai will continue to follow the news from Tokyo, with fervent hopes for a Hatsu basho for fans to follow starting this weekend.