Sumo tourney to be held without spectators

NHK -- Mar 02
The coronavirus outbreak is now affecting one of Japan's favorite sports, sumo. Officials from the Japan Sumo Association say the spring tournament in Osaka will be held without any spectators. The event is scheduled to start on March 8.

Japan Sumo Association Chairman, Hakkaku, said at a news conference on Sunday, "Based on the government's request, and considering that all of society is fighting the spread of the new coronavirus infection, we have made this decision."

This comes as the government is calling for major sports and cultural events to be canceled, postponed or scaled down. It will be the first time a sumo tournament is held without spectators.

The association chairman added that if any of wrestlers are found to be infected, the tournament will be canceled, even if it has already started.

One of sumo fans said, "I think sumo wrestlers will feel lonely without spectators. But I think the fans will cheer in front of their TVs."

Pre-ordered tickets for the event have been sold out.

The association says it will consider ways to refund the money.