For those in Japan, mark your calendars for Saturday at 1:30pm on BSFuji TV. Asahiyama-oyakata will join Karahashi Yumi to discuss sumo. Though there will be no Natsu Basho, there is clearly A LOT to discuss, including the results of Haru, Asanoyama’s Ozeki promotion and the pandemic’s impact.
Shobushi, whose name is Suetake Kiyotaka, has died at the age of 28.
日本相撲協会からのお知らせです。https://t.co/3ma0DJML8D— 日本相撲協会公式 (@sumokyokai) May 13, 2020
The sumo world mourns his loss and is rocked by the news.
Shobushi was well known for his comedy sumo act at special events.— Inside Sport Japan (@InsideSportJP) May 13, 2020
Photos from Feb 9th this year at the Kokugikan#Shobushi #sumo #covid19 #coronavirus #相撲 @takadagawa #高田川部屋 #相撲 #翔武士 pic.twitter.com/jqvhZONcD9
The official statement from the Kyokai was very brief and provided few details. More detail is provided in this Japan Times article, including the detail that he had been the first positive case in sumo, on April 10 and he was sent to the ICU on April 19. Six more men from Takadagawa stable, including its master, later tested positive.
Kyodo News also reports that the Kyokai will begin antibody testing to understand who else may have caught the virus in the past. I hope this is paired with broader testing of active infections, as well. We have seen that people may be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms.
Tachiai extends our condolences to Shobushi’s family and friends.
The NSK may have cancelled the Natsu basho, but never fear—you do not have to wait until July (or later) for some sumo content. Our friends at Grand Sumo Breakdown will be simulating the tournament based on the recently released banzuke. We here at Tachiai will be joining them in covering the mock basho much like we would the real thing. While we can’t bring you actual bouts, we can write previews, highlights, storyline posts, etc. At the end of the tournament, I will even create a projection for a banzuke based on the mock results. In Bruce’s inimitable words, “It will be odd, it could be cheesy, but I think the readership will love it.” While our efforts cannot make up for the absence of real ozumo, we hope that they will scratch the sumo itch at least a little, and bring some much-needed levity to the sumo fandom community.
The mock Natsu basho kicks off in two weeks, on May 24, just like the real thing was slated to before the cancellation. Let us know any thoughts and suggestions you may have in the comments, and stay tuned for more details.
The government’s state of emergency declaration is being extended until the end of the month. Inhabitants are encouraged to stay home, and that includes sumo wrestlers. With multiple wrestlers positive for the Coronavirus, containment is key to stopping the spread of the virus. Tachiai hopes for their speedy recovery.
The official Kyokai announcement for the Natsu Basho is available on their website. The tournament is officially cancelled. As JC called in the comments on our previous post, they aim to hold a tournament in July in TOKYO instead of Nagoya, without spectators. Further, the Fall Jungyo is also cancelled.
The prospect of hundreds of Kyokai staff crowding onto public transport to head to Nagoya was daunting and very risky. If one wrestlers picked up the virus in that trip, it is exceedingly likely that the virus would spread like wildfire throughout the heya. The resumption of physical competition at a Nagoya-hosted basho would then spread the illness further. This is the right move.