Following months of patience and planning, the Japan Sumo Association is ready to make a major move for an upcoming event.
The July Grand Sumo Tournament, which was delayed due to COVID-19, will take place from inside Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikannow from July 19 until August 2. Up to 2,500 fans will be allowed to watch each day of the tournament from inside the arena. The initial location for the tournament was in Nagoya.
“By conducting antibody tests for members and establishing guidelines (against the virus), we decided we could welcome spectators safely and hold the July tournament,” JSA Chairman Hakkaku stated, via Kyodo News.
“Wrestlers have faithfully adhered to our strict regulations against going outdoors and our infection prevention measures. We are confident they will offer exciting action in the ring and meet the expectations of our fans.”
The coronavirus has affected several events within the sumo world. A Grand Sumo Tournament meant to take place from May 24 to June 7 was postponed. The March Grand Sumo Tournament was able to go on as planned, but without any spectators. Hakuho was able to win the whole thing following a dramatic weekend comeback.
Japan recently ended its state of emergency back in May. Sumo became the latest sport to allow fans inside arenas. Fans have been able to attend baseball, soccer, and pro wrestling (NJPW) events as long as they adhere to proper safety procedures. The JSA has informed sumo stars ways of being socially responsible during this time, as stables were informed not to perform any practices that required heavy contact. They were also told to refrain from going outdoors and training with different stables.
Not long ago, the first sumo star tested positive for the coronavirus, while a 28-year-old low-division wrestler died from the virus.
Additionally, the JSA moved November’s Kyusho Grand Sumo Tournament from Fukuoka to Tokyo. Stay tuned, as more information should be released regarding sumo’s return to action.