Back in March they were questioning Hakuho's future, now it looks like he might be the only yokozuna competing in September.
Possible elbow surgery for Harumafuji
Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji may require left elbow surgery, a move which would not only rule him out of the summer regional tour beginning this weekend, but also the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament in September, his stablemaster said Thursday.
"He has inflammation in his left elbow and can't extend it. Harumafuji is set to miss part of the regional tour but could join up (later on) "depending on how it heals," Isegahama said.
Isegahama, however, also spoke about the possibility of an operation and said Harumafuji "would not make it in time" for the Autumn meet starting on Sept. 10 in Tokyo should he have to go under the knife.
Isegahama was speaking a day after Japan Sumo Association deputy director Tamanoi said three of the four current yokozuna would miss part or all of the summer regional tour.
Kisenosato and Kakuryu are both carrying ankle injuries that forced them to withdraw from the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament. Harumafuji was the only yokozuna other than title winner Hakuho to compete in all 15 days of the Nagoya basho that wrapped up Sunday.
Kisenosato has now pulled out of two straight grand tournaments. In May, a lingering upper-arm injury forced him out. This month, Kisenosato hurt an ankle while not fully recovered from the arm injury suffered in March. His stable master Tagonoura on Wednesday said fans may be able to see the Japan-born grand champion in action if he is able to speed up his recovery.
"He has to get his body into top shape if he wants to take part in the tour. It all depends on how things go," Tagonoura said.
The summer edition of sumo's regional tour, which includes ring-entering ceremonies, matches and sumo-related exhibitions around a sumo ring, starts in Gifu on Sunday and ends Aug. 27 in Tokyo, the 21st stop.
Isegahama also said Thursday that Mongolian ozeki Terunofuji is expected to sit out the entire tour to focus on getting fit in time for the Autumn meet.
Terunofuji has not recovered as well as expected from left--knee surgery he had after May's Summer Grand Sumo Tournament. He pulled out midway through the Nagoya meet and is currently hospitalized.