TOKYO • Masked sumo fans sitting apart from each other cheered on their favourite wrestlers in person for the first time in five months yesterday, as the sport’s delayed July tournament started in Japan.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, an event originally planned for May was cancelled, while March’s Spring Grand Tournament in Osaka was held behind closed doors.
The July meet was delayed by two weeks after being moved from its usual location in Nagoya, in central Japan, back to the capital to reduce the risk of infection posed by travel.
The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) is letting in about 2,500 fans a day during the two-week tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan, which has a capacity of 11,000.
Fans have already attended baseball and football matches in Japan, under government guidelines allowing up to 5,000 people at sporting and other events since July 10.
The JSA has prohibited wrestlers from going outdoors unless necessary and to restrict training to their home stables.
Yesterday, grand champion Hakuho opened his account with a win, while fellow yokozuna Kakuryu fell to the dirt to start the tournament with a loss.
Spectators attending the tournament must wear masks and sit individually in seating boxes that usually accommodate four people.
In May, a 28-year-old sumo wrestler became infected with the coronavirus and died from multiple organ failure.
Meanwhile, more Japanese people are not satisfied with the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic now compared with a month ago as infections in the country increase, a poll showed.
About 60 per cent of respondents said they were not happy with actions taken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to tackle the outbreak, according to the poll conducted last Saturday by the Mainichi newspaper and Social Survey Research Centre.
About 60 per cent of respondents said they were not happy with actions taken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to tackle the outbreak, according to the poll conducted last Saturday by the Mainichi newspaper and Social Survey Research Centre. The previous survey, done in June, had about half of respondents expressing dissatisfaction.
The previous survey, done in June, had about half of respondents expressing dissatisfaction.
The number of daily infections in Tokyo reached records for two consecutive days last week. Yesterday, Tokyo confirmed 188 new cases, national broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified official, bringing the total of infections confirmed in the capital to 9,411 people.
The approval rating for Mr Abe’s Cabinet fell by 4 percentage points to 32 per cent, while the disapproval rating rose to 60 per cent, the poll showed.
About 67 per cent of respondents said preventing infections should take priority over economic activities, while 15 per cent said otherwise.
Of those surveyed, 64 per cent said the government should declare a localised state of emergency, while 20 per cent said it should be nationwide, and 12 per cent were against it in any form.
The majority of respondents cautioned against a government-led campaign to help the domestic tourism industry by offering discount vouchers.
The campaign, which is scheduled to start on Wednesday, came under fire on concern that it could fuel the spread of infections across the nation.