A 28-year-old Japanese sumo wrestler has died from health complications after contracting coronavirus, the first in the sport to fall victim to Covid-19.
Shobushi, whose real name was Kiyotaka Suetake, died from multiple organ failure after a bout of pneumonia, the Japan’s Sumo Association (JSA) announced.
The wrestler first developed a fever on April 4 but struggled to get treatment at hospital because of a deluge of similar complaints from other potential patients.
After being turned away by a few hospitals, Shobushi was only admitted to hospital on April 8.
He had been in intensive care since April 19, but his condition deteriorated, and he passed away on Wednesday.
“He fought tenaciously against the disease, enduring the pain and suffering for more than a month like a sumo wrestler,” said Japan’s Sumo Association in a statement on Wednesday.
“We hope he will rest in peace now. We are very grateful to everyone in the medical institutes who treated him with utmost care.”
Shobushi made his professional debut in 2007, and reached the No. 11 rank in the Sandanme Division.
The wrestler belonged to the Takadagawa stable and competed in sumo’s seventh division. There are eleven divisions in all.
Last month, Takadagawa’s stablemaster — a sumo wrestlers’ trainer — also tested positive for coronavirus. So far, six members of the sumo association have been diagnosed with the virus.
“I can only imagine how hard it must have been, battling illness for over a month, but like a wrestler he endured it bravely and fought the disease until the end,” JSA chairman Hakkaku said.
The Sumo Association held its annual March tournament without spectators after the Japanese government requested the cancellation of significant sports events.
Earlier this month, the sumo association canceled the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament and changed the venue of its July 2020 tournament. It will now take place at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan behind closed doors.