With less than 2 days to go before the start of the Haru basho, we now know that Yokozuna Hakuho will compete in Haru, and that Yokozuna Kakuryu, will not. According to reports, Kakuryu, who had shown well at the Kyokai joint practice, injured his left thigh in practice a few days ago. He is currently unable to do shiko, and sadly will be unable to compete for March.
The Yokozuna were given an ultimatum last year – compete or retire. Both sat out January, and both were expected to compete in March. There is, of course, talk that Kakuryu will be directed to retire. While this would be a shame, he now has Japanese citizenship, and will likely become a sumo elder following his retirement. While there is no official word if Kakuryu holds a kabu, it is supsected that he holds the Izutsu kabu, and will take it up once he is intai. While we hope the YDC and the sumo association will allow him to fight it out, at least one last time, I personally do not hold much hope for that outcome.
Meanwhile, I am eager to see Hakuho return to the dohyo. If he competes for all 15 days, and is healthy, he has to be the likely favorite to take home the yusho. While it is likely Hakuho will stave off a directive to retire, it has been announced that he will acquire the Magaki kabu, and will become a sumo elder when that day comes.