1st sellout at Tokyo sumo tournament since COVID-19 pandemic

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A banner declaring a sold-out crowd hangs from the rafters of Ryogoku Kokugikan on the first day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Sunday.

Banners declaring a full house hung from the rafters of the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo on Sunday, the first day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

This was the first sellout for sumo at the venue in Sumida Ward since the final day of the same tournament in January 2020. Soon after, infections with the novel coronavirus began to spread in Japan.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the organizers had asked the audience to refrain from vocally cheering on the sumo wrestlers. At the ongoing tournament, however, the restrictions have been eased on condition that spectators keep their masks on, among other measures to prevent spreading the virus.

“I’ve felt once again,” said Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku, the former yokozuna Hokutoumi, “that with many spectators present, the wrestlers must show their best sumo.”