Inside An Empty Arena, Grand Sumo Tournament Heats Up

For the first time since 1945, a Grand Sumo Tournament started with no audience to view the competition. That did not stop the action from taking place inside the Edion Arena Osaka.

“We’ll work together so that the power of sumo will bring courage and hope to people not only in Japan but across the globe and bring back calm to the world,” said the head of the Japan Sumo Associatio Hakkaku, via Nippon.com.

The March tournament, which lasts 15 days, started on Sunday. The Japan Sumo Association sent out a release a few weeks ago stating that the event would be held off to the public due to the virus. Those in attendance wore face masks and were required to disinfect their hands before going into the arena. Members of the media, stable masters, referees and ring announcers joined the athletes as the only entities viewing the fights live. The traditional use of the “power water” was not put on the athletes mouths, to avoid contamination.

The big winner of the competition so far has been Hakuho. The Grand Champion beat komusubi Endo Shota in the opening contest after a hard slap and push to the clay. On day two, Hakuho beat number one maegashira Daieisho Hayato after knocking him down with a beltless arm throw. On day three, the 35-year-old used the frontal force out to take out a tough competitor in Takayasu.

“It’s a matter of looking for an opening and finding the winning move within the flow of the bout,” Hakuho stated, via Kyodo News.

Takayasu is 0-3 in the tournament so far. It is a different feeling for the former high-ranked tournament holder. Another competitor at 0-3 is Daieisho, who is ranked number one. While he impressed with his strength, Daieisho has not been able to obtain a competitive advantage to start the tournament.

After losing in surprising fashion on day two, Takakeisho won via thrust against Endo to end up at 2-1 in competition. He is the only ozeki in the tournament.

The atmosphere was eerie as the normally lively arena felt quiet.

“It has a sanctified feel to it, like going to a (Shinto) shrine,” No. 13 maegashira Kotoshogiku stated. “Yet again I felt that this is indeed a sacred place, and I want to give it all I have.”

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