Sumo Tournament Kicks Off without Spectators

Sports

Osaka, March 8 (Jiji Press)--The spring sumo grand tournament kicked off in Osaka, western Japan, on Sunday without spectators, an unusual step taken in response to the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

"We'll work together so that the power of sumo will bring courage and hope to people not only in Japan but across the globe and bring back calm to the world," Hakkaku, head of the Japan Sumo Association, said in a speech at an empty Edion Arena Osaka.

Hakkaku, former yokozuna sumo grand champion Hokutoumi, was joined by all makuuchi top-division wrestlers during the speech in a show of determination to work hard during the 15-day tournament.

The professional sumo governing body made the decision to hold the tournament without spectators after the government sought to scale down or cancel events to contain the spread of the virus.

A grand tournament last took place behind closed doors in 1945 during World War II.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press