For the July Grand Sumo Tournament, fans will be permitted to sit in the stands at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The announcement, made on Monday, July 13 by the Japan Sumo Association, gives sumo supporters a chance to watch the action from an arena for the first time since January’s New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
The JSA held an extraordinary board meeting on the same day and authorized plans for up to 2,500 individuals to attend the upcoming tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan. The revered sumo venue seats more than 10,000.
The decision to give the OK for fans to attend the 15-day July Basho comes after Nippon Professional Baseball and pro soccer’s J. League began permitting fans to enter stadiums on July 10. Both leagues have set a limit of 5,000.
“The wrestlers have faithfully adhered to strict restrictions on going out and infection prevention measures to prepare for the July tournament,” JSA Chairman Hakkaku said in a statement. “We’ll be proud to show powerful bouts in the ring.”
During the Spring Basho in Osaka in March, fans were barred from attending due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Then, the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which was scheduled for May, was called off due to the virus and the declaration of a national state of emergency, which ended in late May.
The July Basho, which begins on Sunday, was scheduled to be held in Nagoya before being moved to Tokyo.
In addition, the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, which is held each November in Fukuoka, has been moved to Tokyo. The JSA’s decision is intended to reduce travel by large groups during the pandemic. (As the nation’s sumo capital, Tokyo also houses several sumo stables.)
According to the JSA, it will admit fans “by thoroughly taking measures to prevent infections inside the facility.”
As a result, preventive measures will include requesting that fans wear face masks. Fans will also be asked to “refrain from shaking hands with rikishi,” Agence France-Presse reported.
Author: Ed Odeven