Haru 2020, Day 2 – Bouts from the lower divisions

In Makushita and below, Day 2 is essentially just the second part of Day 1. That is, about half the rikishi do their first bout on the actual Day 1, and the second half do it on Day2.

It is also the day when maezumo bouts begin. While in other basho we are usually lucky if there are 10 new recruits showing up, Osaka basho has always been a basho in which dozens of rikishi join the profession. This time we have 45 new recruits (and one guy who is off-banzuke and needs to redo his maezumo), split into two groups. I won’t be able to cover that many in this little corner, but I’ll introduce one who has drawn some media attention.

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Basho Behind Closed Doors – The Gory Details

Holding a basho behind closed doors is not something the NSK does very often. In fact, other than Natsu 1945, there has been no similar situation. And even then, it was not exactly closed doors – military personnel and associates of the association and rikishi were allowed in.

Here are some of the details from the press conference held by the NSK board. Keep in mind that they may reconsider any and all of these decisions during the coming week, and that more details will be ironed out as they come up.

Coming in

  • Only NSK employees (rikishi, gyoji, yobidashi etc.), and members of the press and media will be allowed in.
  • The rikishi are not allowed to use public transport to get to the arena. Shuttle buses which are not used for public transport will be provided by the NSK.
  • Rikishi will need to have their temperature measured daily three times, and if the mean temperature is above 37.5ºC, they will automatically go kyujo.
  • Members of the press and media will also be requested to have their temperature taken at the entrance.

Media interaction

  • Normally, members of the press are allowed to enter the shitaku-beya while the rikishi have their hair re-done after bouts, to ask questions. This will not be allowed this basho. Instead, there will be a designated interview area with no direct contact between rikishi and reporters.
  • Photographers will have to take photos at a distance. There is going to be a “sterile zone” of sorts around the dohyo.
  • Broadcast teams will be seated in the second floor seats, or in enclosed rooms with monitors.

The daily routine

  • Chikara Mizu – “Power Water” – will be performed without water and without the rikishi touching the ladles with their lips. They will just be going through the motions.
  • PA announcements of monoii results will still be made, for the benefit of TV.
  • Kensho envelopes and their associated sponsorship flags have not been cancelled. They are aware that sponsors may want to cancel their pledges, and will have discussions with them if this happens.

Senshuraku

  • The san-yaku greeting on Day 1 and Day 15 usually includes a bow in all directions. This time there will only be a bow toward the main camera direction.
  • The Emperor’s Cup, Yusho Flag, Prime Minister’s Cup and yusho certificates will be awarded. However, all the other prizes are to be cancelled pending deliberation.
  • There will be no orchestra to play the national anthem, and it will be played from recording.
  • The usual yusho photographs in the shitaku beya, featuring support group members and associates, will be prohibited.
  • The yusho parade will be cancelled.

What if confirmed cases turn up?

  • If a rikishi is confirmed with COVID-19, the basho is cancelled forthwith.
  • If an oyakata or a gyoji etc. is positive, they will decide on a case-by-case basis.
  • The question of the effect of basho cancellation on ranking in the next basho is “still under debate”.

What about the heya?

It should be noted that the rikishi have already been warned not to go on unnecessary outings. Many heya have barred their practice grounds to spectators (customarily in non-Tokyo basho open practice sessions are common), and cancelled senshuraku parties and other fan interaction and events. There is going to be a meeting of the heya masters tomorrow, in which the procedure for temperature checking will be explained, and it’s likely that necessity of isolation of the heya members from the general public will also be stressed in that meeting.

Haru Basho to be held sans spectators

In a special meeting of the NSK board, it has been decided that the basho will take place, but spectators will not be admitted.

Hakkaku, the chairman of the board, says that the board had the fans across Japan in mind when making this decision.

This implies that the basho will be televised as usual.

The Osaka Edion Arena is smaller than the Kokugikan and it is estimated they will have to refund around 7000 tickets.