Asanoyama Faces 1-Year Ban and Pay Cut

Ozeki Asanoyama will be suspended for 6 tournaments and have his pay cut in half for breaking Covid restrictions and visiting a hostess club. This follows on from similar suspensions to popular rikishi, Abi, and to the hard-twerking, sorry, hard-working Ryuden. Ryuden had notably fallen from Juryo into Jonokuchi due to injury and had climbed all the way to sanyaku. Abi has likewise begun his comeback with consecutive lower-rank yusho.

Asanoyama’s drop could place him in Sandanme at the Nagoya-basho 2022, assuming no more canceled tournaments. His former oyakata, the former Ozeki Asashio, had retired from his stablemaster position at the end of 2020 but had stayed on as an advisor, Nishikijima-oyakata. However, he has now also retired from that role as he was also found to have broken Covid restrictions.

Stay tuned…I’m sure there will be more details to follow. I will also write a separate editorial on this scandal later tonight. While many details are finalized and certainly have an impact on the upcoming Nagoya basho, there are quite a few other questions as well as more context to provide…and debate over the punishment itself.

12 thoughts on “Asanoyama Faces 1-Year Ban and Pay Cut

  1. It fits in line with the other punishments but it really comes down to how hard you want to punish him. Covid’s still raging in Japan and what he did endangered the entire field while also “disgracing” the status of Ozeki. But any more then a year and you’re basically dooming him from ever reaching his full potential. Do you rid Sumo of a potential future (native) Yokozuna for his transgressions or hope this is severe enough that it’ll cause him to mature? Hard to say.

    Assuming he doesn’t slack off in his year out, Asanoyama will race back up the ranks. Like Abi maybe it’ll help solve his maturity issues and inconsistency? If so it’s a net win for everyone.

    I don’t think there’s a real clear answer if you look at the entire situation as a whole trying to weigh all the different aspects of it.

  2. I’m kind of ‘meh’ on this whole thing. This would be a pretty huge punishment just for breaking covid protocol, but there’s also the lying aspect of it. In the end, I’m left with this: I think Asanoyama still has the potential to reach Yokozuna. If the punishment was too light, there would always be talk about if he really deserved it. Forcing him to fight his way back from all the way down at Sandanme will leave little doubt in fans minds.

  3. Whoa! A year is a lot.
    For Asanoyama it could go both ways: he could become even more demotivated and sluggish down there, or he can take it as chance to regroup, mentally and physically…
    My theory is that he was touched by The hand of foulness back when he won his Yusho in 2019… poor fella.

    • I was just thinking: given he comes back motivated in a year, by the time he´ll climb back to sanyaku it will be almost 2 years… 2 of his prime years gone… I´m a little astonished by the gravity of this decision.

  4. So now Asano-phony’s time table looks as follows:

    Sandanme – 1 tournament, July 2022
    Makushita – 2 tournaments, September/November 2022
    Juryo – 2 tournaments, January/March 2023
    Makuuchi – return for May 2023

    Of course this is a best case scenario and assumes that he wins tournaments in each of the 3 lower divisions. Anything less and his road back will take a lot longer. This timeline puts him at 29 when he gets back to Makuuchi and attempts his rise back up the ranks.

    Talk about blatant arrogance and stupidity torpedoing a once promising career.

    • You can get through Juryo in just 1 tournament, but that requires luck and a 14-1 or better 15-0 yusho.

  5. Wow, this is the harshest punishment so far! Compared to the number of ‘outings’ Ryuden had, and the degree of ‘interaction’, it seems Ryuden got off easily. I guess this is because Asanoyama is an Ozeki. Or maybe they want to set a firmer example (but then why not dock Ryuden’s pay as well?). Or maybe due to the emergency in Tokyo.

    (It seems strange to call the emergence of 1900+ cases yesterday in Japan an emergency, contrasted to the 14,000+ new cases reported to the USA’s CDC yesterday. In the States, we call 14,000+ new cases a day ‘winning’. But I digress.)

    I am/was a fan of Asanoyama, and see him as Yokozuna material. Too bad to see him lose that prospect for this completely avoidable reason.

    • While not a fan of Asanoyama, I really thought he would be the next Yokozuna. It’s not just the number of outings and his rank – he lied. And that is why the punishment is so harsh.

      I do hope he will find some maturity and mental fortitude and fight his way back. He’ll be older, but still have a chance at a decent career in Makuuchi. Barring injuries of course. You have to feel for the new kids in Sandanme. First Ura, then Terunofuji, Abe, Ryuden, and now (eventually) Asanoyama.

  6. If my math is right, the earliest he could return to the top division would be May 2023, and the earliest he could regain Ozeki would be March 2024. This would require Terunofuji-like dominance or better the entire way up. So at best, roughly a three-year step backwards in his career.

  7. Did he get a 1 year or a 6 tournament ban?
    In covid time this could theoretically make a difference.

    • It’s very unlikely that there will be another tournament cancellation. Japan is moving on even with way more than the number of cases that cancelled the May 2020 basho, and the vaccine program has accelerated to the point that the country should be out of this mess by end of the year. It’s months later than it should have been, but it’s now become a respectable vaccination campaign.


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