The Japan Sumo Association is making arrangements to cancel the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which was scheduled to open May 24 due to the new coronavirus pandemic, multiple official sources said Sunday.
The JSA has said its decision to hold or cancel the 15-day event at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan would consider the government's position. But with Japan's state of emergency now likely to be extended to the end of May, it becomes increasingly difficult to hold the tournament.
According to one source, the JSA's board of directors will make a formal decision on Monday once receiving word that the state of emergency will be extended. A cancelation would be the third time in history and the first since the March 2011 grand tournament was shelved due to a match-fixing scandal.
In order to help stem the spread of the virus, March's Spring tourney in Osaka was the first grand tournament in history held behind doors. The tourney took place with the understanding that it would be suspended should any wrestler or JSA member test positive for the virus.
On April 7, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures. Nine days later, the order was extended to the entire nation.
As of Sunday, seven people within the JSA had tested positive for the pneumonia-causing virus, including stablemaster Takadagawa, second-tier wrestler Hakuyozan and five lower-ranked wrestlers.
"The situation is radically different from the spring tourney," a senior association executive said. "People within the association have now become infected. We can't hope to stage the summer tourney."