Natsu Basho Decision Day Looms (Monday, May 4)

In Tachiai’s unscientific fan poll, our readers were split right down the middle on whether Natsu should be cancelled. More than 21% of the fans who responded believed that the Nagoya tournament should also be cancelled because of the Coronavirus. The Nihon Sumo Kyokai will announce their decision on Monday. If the decision comes early in the morning, like the banzuke usually does, expect some sort of brief post Sunday night in the US.

Poll: Should Natsu 2020 Happen?

Simple question. Bruce’s article about 1918 begs the question, given this worst case scenario — fatalities — should Natsu 2020 happen? Has the NSK taken enough precautions to ensure the tournament can happen without spreading COVID-19 throughout the sumo world? They appear to have stopped the spread at one heya, which in my mind is remarkable given their communal living quarters.

I will ask this now…and at the beginning of May. I think it will be very interesting to compare the results.

A Glimpse Into Heya COVID-19 Precautions

Shikihide beya’s Okamisan, Megumi, offers followers a description and a few pictures of the precautions their stable takes daily to clean and disinfect the communal to protect wrestlers from the Coronavirus.

They emphasize hygiene practices of hand-washing, gargling and use of hand sanitizer. Trips outside are restricted to essential tasks like shopping for food. Shopping is done with masks, eye protection, hair caps, and gloves. Back at the stable, things like the soles of slippers, handrails, TV remote, and switches are sanitized frequently. Chanko is prepared and served with masks and gloves.

Rikishi Positive for COVID-19

It’s official; an unnamed rikishi at an unspecified heya has tested positive for the new Coronavirus. According to the NSK, there are no other wrestlers or staff from the heya who are exhibiting symptoms and no others feel sick. The Kyokai Announcement confirms that the rikishi fell ill on the fourth. An early quick test on the 8th was negative but the subsequent PCR test was positive. Other members of the heya and staff have been isolated and will comply with guidance from the Health Department.

Since some infected people are asymptomatic or exhibit mild symptoms, all of the wrestlers and staff need to be tested, though it is unclear from the article whether there will be further testing. I hope that would fall under the guidance from the Health Department, along with the isolation. Containment of the infection is key and safety is the Kyokai’s stated top priority. Tachiai will bring further details and developments as they come.