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28-Year-Old Sumo Wrestler Dies in Japan from Coronavirus

Αssociated Press

A man stands at a corridor where many restaurants remain closed in Tokyo, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Japan is still under a coronavirus state of emergency, which was extended this week until the end of May, though there have been no hard lockdowns. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — A 28-year-old Japanese sumo wrestler died Wednesday from the coronavirus.

The Japan Sumo Association said Shoubushi, whose real name was Kiyotaka Suetake, died of multiple-organ failure after developing COVID-19 pneumonia.

He is the first sumo wrestler known to die from the virus, and among the youngest victims in Japan.

The wrestler developed a fever on April 4 but could not get a test or find a hospital until four days later, when he was in worse condition, the association said. He was moved to an intensive care unit at a Tokyo hospital on April 19.

Japan, under a coronavirus state of emergency since April 7, is preparing to partially lift the measures amid signs of slowing infections. Experts, however, urge people to keep avoiding close contacts, which has been a challenge for sumo.

Wrestlers in Japan’s ancient sport of sumo traditionally live together like a big family, or a group known as “stables,” usually headed by retired champions, and they train and eat together and often share food, typically hot-pot dish called Chanko. Several other wrestlers have also been infected.

Although they still live in stables, they had to stop sharing food, and stop parts of training that involve physical contacts.

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 fears of further spreading the virus.

Japan has recorded almost 16,000 cases of COVID-19 and 670 deaths, according to a tally by Japan’s health ministry.