With the day 1 torikumi published, it’s confirmed that for the first time in 37 years, none of the active Yokozuna will start this tournament. Make sure the catch the dohyo matsuri streaming live on YouTube,
and NHK World’s Grand Sumo Preview!
Much as Team Tachiai had worried, the 2020 Aki Basho will start day one with no Yokozuna present. With the publication of the torikumi (fight card) for days 1 and 2 in the top division, it was clear that both Yokozuna Kakuryu and Yokozuna Hakuho would not participate. In the case of Hakuho, he is a month into recovery from having arthroscopic surgery to both knees, and may in fact be questionable for November as well.
For Kakuryu, it seems to have been a case of injuries (unspecified thus far), along with a worry that he had not been able to train up to Yokozuna fighting level prior to the basho. Some of this he has recently attributed to the ban on degeiko, which the Yokozuna use to spar against the top talent and tune up prior to a basho.
This is the first time in 37 years that all active Yokozuna have been absent from the start of a tournament [EDIT: Akebono, the sole active Yokozuna, was absent from Aki 1994. The 37-year gap applies to more than one active Yokozuna: neither Chiyonofuji nor Kitanoumi started Natsu 1983. -lksumo], and it clearly signals we are deep in the transition period, and in my opinion, both Yokozuna are 12 months or less from hanging up their ropes. We know Hakuho wants to hold on and participate in the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed from this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kakuryu is looking to stay in Japan and become an elder in the sumo association, which the NSK seems to support. But he must gain Japanese citizenship first, and with that same COVID-19 outbreak continuing to disrupt civilian and government functions, there is no word on him advancing to that goal.
Following his day 12 loss to Mitakeumi, Yokozuna Hakuho has withdrawn from the July Tokyo basho, citing injury to his right knee. As reported by Inside Sport Japan a short time ago:
His day 13 opponent was Shodai, who will will improve to 10-3. Does this mean that Shodai is on an Ozeki run? Hard to say if they will count a fusensho as one of his wins, but hey – it’s Shodai.
We hope “The Boss” can heal up and return to action for the next tournament, whenever that may be.
Takakeisho will not compete on Day 12. Readers have been eyeing possible injuries since Day 10. Citing discomfort in his left knee, Takakeisho will withdraw, handing Daieisho his second fusen win of the tournament and his kachi-koshi.