Ozeki Terunofuji withdrew from the ongoing Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday, becoming the eighth makuuchi division wrestler to sit out all or part of the 15-day meet in Tokyo as a result of injury.
It is the first time in 99 years for five wrestlers in the two highest ranks -- three yokozuna and two ozeki -- to pull out of a single tournament, the last time being at the summer tournament in 1918.
With yokozuna Hakuho, Kisenosato and Kakuryu, as well as ozeki Takayasu and Terunofuji out of the meet in Ryogoku Kokugikan, Harumafuji remains the only grand champion competing, though he is 2-3 after falling to his third straight loss on Thursday.
Ozeki Goeido is the only wrestler fighting at sumo's second-highest rank, and he enters Friday's bout with a 4-1 record.
Terunofuji, a 25-year-old Mongolian ozeki, was fighting in a demotion-threatened "kadoban" status for the fifth time, but in Thursday's defeat to Shohozan, his fourth loss of the meet, he aggravated a left knee injury he sustained at the last basho.
It looks unlikely that he will return to competition in the next 10 days, meaning there will be no way for the Isegahama stable wrestler to avoid demotion from the ozeki rank he has held for 14 meets since the 2015 Nagoya basho.
"This morning he woke up in pain and couldn't walk. I can only say from what I know now, but it doesn't seem realistic (that he will return to compete in the autumn tourney). It's an injury, so it can't be helped," said Terunofuji's stablemaster Isegahama.
It will be the second straight tournament Terunofuji is pulling out of, and the third of his career. He forfeits Friday's scheduled bout against Shodai.
In a tournament where the absentee list continues to grow,
third-ranked maegashira Onosho is the only wrestler with a perfect record.
No. 12 maegashira Sadanoumi, who missed the first five days of the tournament due to a right leg injury, returns to the raised ring and faces Yutakayama in his first bout on Friday. Seven makuuchi wrestlers are still sidelined.