Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japan Sumo Association has withdrawn its invitation to the Emperor and Empress to watch the New Year tournament at the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Tokyo, starting on Sunday, as the couple usually do every year, it was learned Thursday.
The retraction of the invitation follows former yokozuna grand champion Harumafuji’s assault on a junior wrestler late last year and the association’s internal conflict over the incident.
The move was revealed by Shinichiro Yamamoto, grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, at a regular press conference on Thursday.
According to Yamamoto, the invitation was extended around October, before the assault case came to light. The agency was making arrangements to accept the offer, he said.
However, the sumo association told the agency this week that it would decline to receive the Imperial couple’s visit during the upcoming bimonthly tournament, citing “recent developments.”
Yamamoto said the Emperor and Empress have been informed of the sumo association’s decision. “I think Their Majesties are feeling that it’s a shame to miss it,” he said.