Sumo Wrestler Shobushi Dead at 28 After COVID-19 Diagnosis

Shobushi (not pictured above), a renowned sumo wrestler in Japan, has died at age 28 after contracting the coronavirus.

In a statement from Japan’s Sumo Association (JSA), the athlete, born Kiyotaka Suetake, passed away Wednesday from organ failure after he had tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Shobushi is the first known competitor in the sport to die from coronavirus complications.

“He fought tenaciously against the disease, enduring the pain and suffering for more than a month like a sumo wrestler,” the organization said. “We hope he will rest in peace now. We are very grateful to everyone in the medical institutes who treated him with utmost care.”

Per reports, Shobushi first developed a fever on April 4 but had trouble seeking medical care as a large number of patients crowded hospitals with similar ailments.

He was eventually admitted to a hospital on the evening of April 8 after coughing up blood.

Though the JSA says his initial coronavirus tests came back negative, he then tested positive for COVID-19 on April 10 after being transferred to another hospital.

Shobushi had been in intensive care since April 19 until his death this week.

“I can only imagine how hard it must have been, battling illness for over a month, but like a wrestler he endured it bravely and fought the disease until the end,” JSA chairman Hakkaku said in a statement obtained by The Japan Times. “I just want him to rest peacefully now.”

After making his professional debut in 2007, Shobushi reached the No. 11 rank in the Sandanme division.

Per CNN, six members of the sumo association have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

This month, the JSA announced it has canceled its upcoming Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, while the July 2020 tournament has been moved to Tokyo’s Ryōgoku Kokugikan, where it will be held behind closed doors.

Our condolences go out to Shobushi’s family for their tragic loss. He will be missed.


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