The Japan Sports Agency has asked the Japan Sumo Association to make changes to its March grand tournament amid the current coronavirus outbreak, a source with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday.
The JSA's board of directors will meet Sunday in an extraordinary session to consider three alternatives for the March 8 to 22 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament at Edion Arena Osaka -- closing the tourney to fans, postponing it or canceling it.
"It would be very difficult (to operate in the usual fashion)," one JSA director said. "We have to consider the worst case when we make our decision."
An association official said, "We need to consider public welfare. We are a public interest foundation (overseen by the government)."
The association's communications director, sumo elder Shibatayama, said, "There is nothing to tell you at the present time."
The March 7 ring ceremony at the venue will take place without wrestlers and will be closed to the general public, while two other pre-tournament events have been canceled.
Japan's sports leagues have this week begun announcing drastic measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Japan's professional soccer establishment, the J-League, suspended all its games until March 15.
On Wednesday the Japan Rugby Top League postponed 16 games over the next two weekends, while Nippon Professional Baseball will play all 72 of its remaining preseason games behind closed doors.