Grand champion Hakuho could miss September's Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament following a Japan Sumo Association announcement on Wednesday that a second-tier juryo division wrestler at his Miyagino stable had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 36-year-old yokozuna extended his record for career grand tournament championships to 45 in July when he went 15-0. According to JSA communications director Shibatayama, Hakuho and the rest of the stable members were tested after 19-year-old Hokuseiho returned a positive result.
The 15-day Autumn tourney will kick off on Sept. 12 at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan. Up until now, the JSA's policy has been to bar wrestlers from stables with infections confirmed within two weeks of a grand tournament's first day. But Shibatayama said a decision would be made after the other test results are received on Thursday.
"If one wrestler after another is infected, then it's going to be an extremely difficult situation," said Shibatayama.
The Miyagino stable sat out this year's January tournament after Hakuho became infected.
Hokuseiho, who was born in Mongolia, has made a rapid ascent through the ranks and was primed to make his debut in the juryo division in just his eighth tournament.