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Japan's best sumo wrestler infected with coronavirus

 Hakuho, Japan's top-ranked sumo wrestler, tested positive for coronavirus.

Japan's best sumo wrestler infected with coronavirus

The Mongolian-born grand champion took a Covid-19 test after losing his sense of smell, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) said.

The news comes as Japan considers declaring a state of emergency in and around Tokyo, where virus cases have increased.

It has imposed relatively relaxed restrictions so far, with an outbreak more contained than some countries.

Activities such as sumo wrestling have continued despite the pandemic, but cases have also emerged in sport. In May, a 28-year-old Japanese sumo wrestler died of organ failure caused by the virus.

Hakuho, the longest-serving yokozuna or the highest-ranked wrestler in Japan, had been preparing for the New Year's Grand Sumo Tournament, which will begin in Tokyo on Sunday.

He will now seek the advice of specialists, while the other fighters in his stable will also be evaluated, JSA said.

Japan's best sumo wrestler infected with coronavirus

Also on Tuesday, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said a declaration of a state of emergency would be decided on Thursday for Tokyo and its surroundings, according to local media reports.

Japan has recorded nearly 249,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,500 deaths since the start of the pandemic. While the numbers are much lower than in countries like the UK and the US, the Japanese government has been concerned about what it has described as a "very serious" third wave of infections.

The surge in cases has raised new questions about whether Japan can still host the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

Last week, Suga said the games would go ahead and be "safe and secure."

Japan first imposed a state of emergency last year in spring. There were no sanctions for non-compliance and the country has avoided the strict lockdowns seen in other parts of the world.

Activities like sumo wrestling have continued despite the pandemic and Hakuho, 35, was seen competing in events last year.

In April, Shobushi, whose real name is Kiyotaka Suetake, became the first sumo wrestler to test positive for the virus. His condition quickly worsened and he died due to multiple organ failure.

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