FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2018, file photo, Sumo grand champion Hakuho, second from right, of Mongolia arrives to perform his ring entry form at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Hakuho, the top-ranked sumo wrestler in Japan has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Japan Sumo Association said on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

TOKYO (AP) — A top-ranked sumo wrestler has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Japan Sumo Association on Tuesday said the wrestler, who goes by the name of Hakuho, underwent a polymerase chain reaction after detecting problems with his sense of smell.

The Mongolian-born wrestler had been preparing for a tournament that begins this weekend. There was no immediate report on his exact condition.

He is the first among the top-ranked sumo wrestlers in Japan to test positive for COVID-19.

Hakuho is a “yokozuna,” a grand champion in sumo wrestling, and one of the best the traditional Japanese sport has ever seen. In an interview last year he pointed out that his late father was a silver medalist in wrestling for Mongolia in the 1968 Olympics. He also competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan, with a population of 125 million, has managed the coronavirus pandemic relatively well, with about 3,500 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

But new cases have been surging over the last several weeks and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been asked to impose a “state of emergency” for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures.


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