Yokozuna Terunofuji pulls out on eve of New Year tourney

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo

Yokozuna Terunofuji withdrew from the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday, leaving the opening tournament of the year without a wrestler in the highest rank two days before it is to start at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.

It marks the third consecutive tournament that the injury-plagued Terunofuji will miss all or part of. On Friday, his name was removed from the schedule of bouts for the first and second days by the Japan Sumo Association.

The 31-year-old Terunofuji underwent endoscopic operations on both of his troubled knees in October, and it appears he has not recovered in time for the New Year tournament.

His knee problems caused him to drop out midway through the Autumn tournament in September, then completely skip the Kyushu tournament in November and regional tour in December.

The New Year tournament is the first tournament since 1909 with just one yokozuna and one ozeki in the rankings. Terunofuji’s withdrawal leaves ozeki Takakeisho as only wrestler among the elite top-two ranks.