A 28-year-old sumo wrestler from the sport’s fourth-tier sandanme division died early Wednesday morning due to multiple organ failure caused by the new coronavirus, the Japan Sumo Association said.
Shobushi, whose real name was Kiyotaka Suetake, is the first sumo wrestler to die from the pneumonia-causing virus. He is also thought to be the first person in their 20s to die from the virus in Japan.
The Yamanashi Prefecture native became the first sumo wrestler to test positive for the virus on April 10. According to the JSA, his condition worsened on April 19 and he was treated at an intensive care unit at a hospital in Tokyo.
Shobushi made his professional debut in 2007 out of the Takadagawa stable and reached the No. 11 rank in the sandanme division.
“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.
“I just want him to rest peacefully now.”
Late last month, the JSA announced the Takadagawa stablemaster and five of the stable’s wrestlers, including second-tier rikishi Hakuyozan, had contracted COVID-19. The JSA did not name the other wrestlers at the time, citing privacy reasons. The stablemaster and Hakuyozan have both already been discharged from the hospital.
The Summer Grand Sumo Tournament scheduled to take place from May 24 to June 7 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan was canceled earlier this month over concerns about the further spread of the virus.