COVID news: 8 new cases appear, Tokitsukaze punishment

Two news items from earlier today are related to the pandemic.

Eight new cases in heya

A few days ago, we have reported that 6 rikishi tested positive at an undisclosed heya. At the time, all the others were tested as well but were negative. However, several of those previously negative have developed symptoms such as a high fever. As a result, a new test has been conducted and 8 additional rikishi were found positive, bringing the number of infections in that heya to 14 in total.

None of those infected is a sekitori, and therefore the names and the heya are undisclosed.

Tokitsukaze oyakata’s punishment decided

We have previously posted that Tokitsukaze oyakata has been caught on camera breaking COVID regulation repeatedly during Hatsu basho, and handed in his resignation. The NSK did not accept it immediately, and waited for the Compliance Committee to investigate the matter. That committee has completed its investigation and handed in a report a few days ago, recommending that the oyakata retire. In an extraordinary meeting of the board today, they have decided to issue an official “recommendation to retire”, and additionally, reduced Tokitsukaze’s severance pay by 30%.

The Tokitsukaze name, together with the heya, will transfer to Magaki oyakata, the former Tosayutaka, freeing the Magaki kabu. This was not an arbitrary selection, but rather the consensus at which the ichimon arrived as soon as Tokitsukaze made up his mind to retire.

9 thoughts on “COVID news: 8 new cases appear, Tokitsukaze punishment

  1. Asymptomatic spread is the tricky bit. I’m trying to figure out a better policy that would have limited this to the initial 6 wrestlers. It just seems like once in a stable, everyone’s going to get it.

    • Well, it didn’t spread out in Tomozuna beya. And it remained limited in Kokonoe beya.

      It can probably be prevented by being masked as much as possible and ventilating the keiko-ba, chanko-ba and dorm.

      There was some interesting research about humidity – increased humidity decreases infection because droplets grow heavier and fly shorter distances.

      • The humidity thing is interesting as pot smokers have been doing that forever. Smoking in a bathroom with a hot shower on full blast more or less eliminates the smoke smell as the particles that make it up seem to get “trapped” by the water vapor.

        This post brought to you by “Working as a Touring Stagehand” along with a grant from The “Need Drugs to Make Living on a Bus with 11 Other People Tolerable” Foundation.

  2. Any speculation on which heya it is? 14 wrestlers ranked makushita and below must seriously narrow it down.

    • Actually, we checked that in NattoSumo’s Discord. There are 23 heya with 14 or more wrestlers ranked Makushita and below. Although some can be eliminated or considered unlikely (Kokonoe, Michinoku, Naruto, Otake, Onomatsu, Shikoroyama, Tamanoi) it still desn’t narrow it quite far enough.

      • According to a thread on the sumo forum, if you assume there are no sekitori in the heya, which we don’t know, that leaves Shikihide, Musashigawa, and Yamahibiki.

        • Sure. But as you said, we don’t know that. We just know that no sekitori were infected. In heya like Sakaigawa, where the sekitori are veterans and live outside the heya, they are highly likely to stay safe.

  3. I’m just curious about the non-naming of heya and rikishi because no sekitori are involved.
    Is it because they deserve privacy because they are not on the payroll, or because they are too unimportant to be concerned about?

    • I think both could actually be interpreted as the same thing. It just depends on whether you attribute good faith or bad faith to the NSK. In general, they consider the lower division members as “rikishi in training”. As such, they don’t have public facing duties other than “be civil”. They are not supposed to give autographs, etc. And the other side of that coin is that their affairs are more private.

      For example, there were incidents of violence caused by low-ranking rikishi. They were duly punished but their names were never released.

      To sum up, I think the idea is that as a sekitori you give up some of your privacy, which you retain as a non-sekitori, but you can interpret it as “non-sekitori are not important”, as well.

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