Coronavirus Fears Affect Osaka Sumo Events

The Coronavirus precautions are starting to hit sumo events. Fan service or “Fansa” events are important forms of outreach in the sumo world. Many stables rely on them for fund-raising, as does the Kyokai itself. A baby holding photo event, scheduled for February 25, is being cancelled. As Herouth reports, a public practice involving the Nishinoseki Ichimon is being cancelled as well. There are some fears that the Osaka tournament itself — and even the Olympics — will be cut back or cancelled outright.

Worldwide, search interest in Corona Virus rose during the final week of Hatsubasho and peaked in the days just after senshuraku. Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak, was subjected to severe travel restrictions on Wednesday the 23rd as the yusho race was heating up. This international interest in the topic hit its highest when the WHO declared a global health emergency (reversing their decision from the prior week) and many airlines cut revenue service to the Chinese mainland. However, the subsequent days have seen a swift decline in search interest.

This trend has not been replicated in Japan, however, as stories of taxi drivers testing positive for the virus hit the media and a quarantined cruise ship sits in its waters. The trend below is for Google searches of Corona Virus symptoms from Japan. As we see, that interest peaked within just the past few days so the issue is very present in Japan. February 5th corresponds to the start of the quarantine of the Diamond Princess. There’s a bit of a surge in the search popularity with that news with interest sustained over the subsequent days but really peaking with the first Coronavirus death in Japan and two taxi drivers testing positive for the virus on the 12th.

The Diamond Princess will being releasing passengers beginning today. No doubt that will lead to more stories and hyper vigilance in Japan, and perhaps another surge in searches. Passengers will get a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test in order to be released and the process will continue over several days as it will take days to get the results. Hopefully, that will assuage some fears about the outbreak.

One potential silver lining…could fewer fansa obligations improve Tokushoryu’s chances in Osaka? Tamawashi won Hatsu 2019 and followed that 13-2 performance with a 5-10 stinker. Both of his tournaments were fought at Sekiwake and the projected stronger schedule facing Tokushoryu will require him to be ready.

Rikishi Work Hard For Their Fans

With the banzuke release, many media outlets have posted familiar shots of promoted sekitori standing outside their stables duly pointing out their shikona. Endo’s sanyaku debut features prominently. Somewhat less prominent is the work rikishi perform inside their stable walls, fulfilling obligations to their fans. Social media is great because we get more insight into this side of the stable life.

Stories from Meisei, Kiribayama, and Toyonoshima‘s Instagram feeds have given us glimpses, over the past 24 hours, of the “administrative” workload they and their stablemates share. The fat stack of banzuke below (Toyonoshima) are painstakingly folded by hand, sorted, and mailed to the stable’s supporters. Somehow, I doubt they are allowed to invest in a folding machine.