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Sumo wrestler Kotokantetsu said he was forced to quit the sport after his request to skip the winter Grand Sumo Tournament due to coronavirus concerns was rejected by the Japan Sumo Association even as Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo over the pandemic. Kotokantetsu, 22, revealed that he had previously undergone heart surgery and feared his life would be endangered if he contracted the virus.
But despite a rash of positive Covid tests that forced several wrestlers, including grand champion Hakuho, to miss the tournament, sumo's governing body apparently insisted Kotokantetsu take part while allowing a crowd of 5000 to attend the event, which began Sunday at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan arena. Last May, 28-year-old sumo wrestler Shobushi died after contracting the virus.