We’re three days into the September basho and there already have been many talking points. So, without further ado, let’s discuss sumo!
Days 1 – 3
Well, not really surprising due to the amount of injuries going around in professional Sumo’s current climate, but many rikishi have pulled out of this Aki tournament:
Yokozuna, Hakuho, has withdrawn because he is still recovering from endoscopic surgery on his right knee (which took place on August the 13th), but is said to be ‘disappointed’ that he cannot be invovled in the September meetup. Fellow Yokozuna, Kakuryu, has also withdrawn due to injury. However, his future in sumo appears to be perilously hanging by a thread, with his stable master stating that “We’ve reached a stage where the question of retirement cannot be avoided” if his health does not recover sufficiently. (source: KyodoNews)
Maegashira #14, Abi, is serving a 6-month suspension due to breaching coronavirus restrictions during the July tournament; it was discovered that he had left his lodgings multiple times to visit friends and family at a restaurant. This was found to be in breach of the restrictions imposed by the sumo assocation on the rikishi for “health & safety” concerns – to reduce the risk of spreading, or contracting the novel coronavirus. Maegashira #13, Ishiura is also absent from this tournament, however, his reasons for withdrawal have not knowingly been disclosed.
West Juryo #7, Azumaryu and East Juryo #14 , Fujiazuma, have also withdrawn from the competition.
West Maegashira #11, Kotoshogiku withdrew on day three due to injury concerns (sustained on day two).
The first three days of action during the Aki basho have provided a fascinating insight into this tournament’s Yūshō contention, with the virtual elimantion of the two main suspects for the title: Asanoyama (0 wins and 3 losses) and Terunofuji (1 win and 2 losses). As of day three’s end, there were six rikishi on perfect records: Tobizaru, Chiyotairyu (3rd win comes by default due to Kotoshogiku’s withdrawal), Onosho, Kiribayama, Shodai and Myogiryu.
Notably, Onosho made a much better start to this tournament than in July, with a convincing opening victory against Sadanoumi. Further wins against Kotoeko and Wakatakage, suggest that Onosho has got back into the swing of wrestling and looking forward once again for promotion.
Yūshō hopeful, Shodai, has also made a spectacular start to this basho, with victories against heavyweights such as: Takanosho, Tamawashi and Endo already under his belt. Day four may prove decisive for Shodai and his title contention hopes, as he faces the July champion, Terunofuji – currently holding a 1 win and 2 losses losing record. If Shodai can defeat Terunofuji on the fourth day of play, he will prove his form is in great shape and will be well on his way to fight for not only the Aki title, but also for Ozeki promotion.