252 rikishi infected with COVID-19 since Hatsu Basho

On February 8th, the NSK held a mass PCR test for all its workforce, including rikishi, oyakata and support staff, excluding those who already tested positive following the hana-zumo events at the end of January.

The results came in today, with an unprecedented number of people infected.

Infected Sekitori

  • Shimanoumi, Shiden, Churanoumi (Kise)
  • Chiyonokuni (Kokonoe)
  • Takarafuji (Isegahama)
  • Shodai (Tokitsukaze)
  • Kiribayama (Michinoku)
  • Akua, Meisei (Tatsunami)

Total – 9 sekitori in this round of tests.

Infected Oyakata

  • Michinoku, Urakaze (Michinoku)
  • Tokitsukaze
  • Tatsunami
  • Kabutoyama (Isenoumi)
  • Sakaigawa
  • Kise
  • Onogawa, Katsunoura (Isenoumi)
  • Ajigawa, Tateyama (Isegahama)

Total – 11 oyakata in this round of tests

Others

The NSK did not give the names of rikishi in lower divisions who were infected. But they did inform us that in total, including the previous tests, the number of members infected since the end of Hatsu basho is 252.

Yes, that’s two hundred and fifty two.

The press informs us that none of those who tested positive is showing severe symptoms. We hope it stays this way, and that all of them recover quickly and fully.

COVID-19 super-outbreak in Grand Sumo

Following the two retirement events (Goeido/Takekuma oyakata and Tochiozan/Kiyomigata oyakata) at the end of January, which were apparently held without tests or control of the whereabouts of the participants, there are now dozens of infection cases throughout the Sumo world.

It started with new Ozeki Mitakeumi, of whose infection we were informed on January 31st.

Then on February 2nd, the NSK announced that Takanosho, Daieisho, Tobizaru, Daiamami, Tsurugisho and Aoiyama were infected as well.

Today, we have been informed of 4 oyakata and 12 Rikishi, and, the press adds, a gyoji:

Oyakata

  • Kasugano
  • Takenawa
  • Kiyomigata (Tochiozan)
  • Tokiwayama

Gyoji

  • Kimura Ginjiro

Rikishi

  • Tochinoshin
  • Takakeisho
  • Wakatakakage
  • Wakamotoharu
  • Kotokuzan
  • Terunofuji
  • Midorifuji
  • Nishikifuji
  • Ichiyamamoto
  • Yutakayama
  • Tokushoryu
  • Hoshoryu

There have been no information of lower-division rikishi who were infected at this point.

We wish all those infected a swift and complete recovery. Some of them, most notably Yokozuna Terunofuji, are at a high risk due to diabetes or other co-morbidities.

Miyagino beya kyujo for Aki basho

Photo: Miyagino Beya Instagram

On September 5th, a PCR test was administered to the entire NSK workforce. The results revealed one low-ranking rikishi from Miyagino beya was positive. Given Hokuseiho’s positive result and this new case, it has been decided the entire heya will be absent from Aki basho.

Although the rikishi have tested negative in a PCR test following Hokuseiho’s infection, a rikishi has already complained at the time that he is feeling unwell.

Takashima oyakata, gyoji Shikimori Kandayu, and yobidashi Ryuji, who belong to the heya but have not been attending it, will all participate in the basho.

This will be the second time the heya goes on “COVID kyujo”, after Hakuho’s infection barred the other members of the heya from participating in Hatsu basho.

In other heya

At Oguruma beya, a sewanin (Nishikikaze) has tested positive on September 2nd. Although he was at the heya, he was observing practice wearing a mask, rather than participating in the activity, so the rikishi were not deemed close contacts. In yesterday’s PCR test, they all tested negative. They are therefore cleared to participate in Aki basho.

As for Minato beya, Ichinojo’s heya, Shibatayama oyakata says the NSK has not received information from them about their status at the time he was interviewed. But he said that if Ichinojo tests negative, then at least as far as schedule is concerned, he will be cleared to participate as well.

We wish the infected rikishi and sewanin a speedy recovery and no long term effects. We hope no further cases turn up.

Hokuseiho positive for COVID-19

Hokuseiho - from NSK Twitter

The fresh Juryo man from Miyagino beya (J12W) has been complaining of cold-like symptoms yesterday, and was therefore tested for COVID-19, and the test results were positive.

The other rikishi from Miyagino beya are undergoing tests today, and the results should come back tomorrow.

Shibatayama oyakata, the NSK spokesperson, says it’s likely the rikishi will have to miss the beginning of the basho, as there are less than two weeks to go until he starts. He notes there is a possibility of them joining the basho in the middle, but it all depends on the results of the tests and how things develop – if other rikishi test positive in the following days, it will become difficult for them to participate.

This comes on the heels of Ichinojo’s positive test from last week. However, the big Minato beya man is likely to be able to participate in the basho, as his case was confirmed earlier. Following Ichinojo’s case, all the rikishi who participated in the combo practice, in which he participated for the full four days, have been tested twice, and have all been negative.

We wish Hokuseiho and Ichinojo a speedy recovery and no further symptoms, and hope that no one else has been infected, though with the Delta variant raging across the world, my own hunch is that Hokuseiho is not the last case we will be seeing as we anticipate Aki basho.