TOKYO — The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) said Friday a wrestler has tested positive for the new coronavirus, marking the first confirmed case in the country’s ancient sport, reported Kyodo news.
The wrestler, whose name and stable were not disclosed, competes in one of the sport’s lower divisions, the JSA said. He first developed a fever on Saturday, but none of his stablemates or officials have complained of any symptoms.
“It made me realize that infections exist close by us. I hope from the bottom of my heart that (the wrestler’s) condition doesn’t become severe,” sumo elder Shibatayama, the association’s communications director, said over the phone.
The case comes as a new blow to the association, which has already been forced to make changes to the schedule and format of its grand tournaments in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
After the drastic step of holding March’s spring tournament in in Osaka without spectators, the association delayed the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo by two weeks, with a new start date of May 24.
It has said the Tokyo meet might also be held without spectators or canceled altogether depending on the situation of the pandemic.