Lone yokozuna Terunofuji decided Friday to sit out the impending Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in order to continue his recovery from knee surgery.

The absence of the Mongolian-born grand champion from a fourth consecutive grand tournament will leave ozeki Takakeisho as the highest-ranked wrestler when the 15-day competition opens Sunday at Edion Arena Osaka.

File hoto shows sumo grand champion Terunofuji performing a ceremonial ring-entering ritual at Ise Jingu shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture, on April 3, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The injury-prone Terunofuji will have missed all or part of 16 tournaments for his career, including five of the 10 since his promotion to the sport's highest rank.

The 31-year-old winner of seven top-division titles had endoscopic surgery on both knees last October.

It will be the third straight tournament he has missed entirely and the third straight without a yokozuna stepping into the ring, given Terunofuji's status as the sole holder of the rank since the retirement of all-time great Hakuho in 2021.

Highlighting the dearth of wrestlers at the top two ranks, Takakeisho will once again compete as the sole ozeki and look to further bolster his case for yokozuna promotion following his victorious New Year Grand Tournament.

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