TOKYO >> Ozeki Asanoyama was hit with a six-tournament suspension and a six-month pay cut of 50% by the Japan Sumo Association last month.
The punishment was handed to the ozeki after it was confirmed that he had violated the association’s coronavirus guidelines when he went to nightclubs without permission and filed false reports.
As a result of the unusually long suspension, Asanoyama will fall from the rank of ozeki and could drop to the Sandanme division or lower by the time he is allowed to return in July 2022 for the Nagoya tournament. (He is currently in the top-ranked Makuuchi division; the Sandanme division is the fourth-ranked division of six.)
Asanoyama went to cabaret nightclubs 10 times and ate out three times. In interviews with the association, he falsely stated that he had been seeking medical treatment. He brought along a reporter from the Sports Nippon Newspapers, who verified his lie.
The association stated that Asanoyama’s false report “showed no sign of the (aspects of) dignity required of an ozeki, such as integrity, or awareness of the seriousness of his responsibilities.”
Asanoyama admitted to the facts and submitted a retirement notice. It could be accepted if he further missteps.
His master, Takasago, faces a three-month 20% reduction in pay over his lax supervision.
Former stablemaster Nishikijima was also cited for inviting Asanoyama to a meal that included alcohol. Nishikijima submitted a notice of resignation, which was received, but with no disciplinary action taken.