On April 10th, the NSK announced that Wakamonogashira Fukunosato has tested positive for COVID-19.
A wakamonogashira is a position that mostly involves guiding young rikishi. For example, the people who explain to the new recruits what to do when they mount the dohyo during their presentation are wakamonogashira. They use their shikona for the job. Fukunosato’s real name is Fukuda Kunio.
Fukunosato had fever and felt fatigue, so he took an antigen test at a nearby clinic and was found positive.
The NSK announced that he was isolating at home and awaiting further instructions from the local health authority. They added that he was not in direct contact with the rikishi from the heya and that contact tracing is ongoing.
However, today, after the rikishi and staff at the heya were given PCR tests as a safety measure, another case turned up. This time it’s a rikishi, who is not a sekitori, and therefore his name is not published.
Shibatayama oyakata, the NSK’s spokesperson, says that there is a possibility there will be further cases, and that they are in the process of deciding how to proceed. For the moment, the rikishi is isolating at the heya.
With nearly a month until the start of Natsu basho, an outbreak at this stage will probably have no effect on basho participation. At Tachiai we hope, of course, that all involved recover fully and experience no long-term issues.