01/05/2021, 12.48
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Sumo champion Hakuho tests positive to COVID-19

The Mongolian-born athlete is the current "yokozuna" or top-ranking wrestler. He was tested after losing his sense of smell. In May, a 28-year-old sumo wrestler died from the coronavirus. As the number of cases rises, the Japanese government is contemplating imposing a state of emergency in the capital region. Fears are growing over this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Sumo champion Hakuho tested positive for coronavirus, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) announced today. The Mongolian-born 35-year-old is the current yokozuna or top-ranked sumo wrestler.

Hakuho, whose real name is Mönkhbatyn Davaajargal, was tested after losing his sense of smell, one of the main symptoms of COVID-19 infection. He was training for the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament set to kick off on 10 January.

Despite the recent rise in cases, sumo events – like in other sports – have not stopped. Activities were suspended between May and July after a 28-year-old wrestler, Shobushi, died from the disease.

So far Japan has reported about 249,000 SARS-CoV2 cases with about 3,500 deaths. To stop a third wave, the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is considering reimposing a state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding areas, where the number of cases is constantly rising.

Because of relatively fewer cases, Japan has been able to avoid rigid lockdowns like in Europe and the United States, but any surge in infections is raising fears about next summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

According to estimates, the postponement of the Games by one year will cost the country 640 billion yen ((S$ 6.2 billion).

Due to COVID-19, Japanese authorities have already cancelled important events, like the Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido).

Inaugurated in 1950, the festival, held in February, attracts more than two million visitors every year, from both Japan and abroad, generating about 65 billion yen (US$ 625 million) in revenue.

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