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Sumo Wrestler Shobushi, 28, Dies After Coronavirus Diagnosis

Japanese sumo wrestler Shobushi has become the first member of the ancient sport to die after contracting the novel coronavirus. He was 28.

Shobushi, whose real name is Kiyotaka Suetake, died Wednesday from organ failure after he had tested positive for COVID-19 last month, Japan's Sumo Association (JSA) said in statement, according to CNN, ABC News, and Yahoo Sports.

"He fought tenaciously against the disease, enduring the pain and suffering for more than a month like a sumo wrestler," the statement read. "We hope he will rest in peace now. We are very grateful to everyone in the medical institutes who treated him with utmost care." Shobushi developed a fever on April 4, but had trouble contacting the local public health officials, the JSA said. He was turned away by multiple hospitals until he was admitted to a Tokyo hospital on the evening of April 8 after he started coughing up blood, added the JSA. The JSA claimed that Shobushi's initial coronavirus tests came out negative before he tested positive for the virus on April 10 after being transferred to another hospital.

Shobushi was placed in intensive care on April 19 until he died Wednesday, the JSA said. "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, per The Japan Times.

Shobushi, who made his professional debut in 2007, reached the No. 11 rank in the Sandanme Division and belonged to the Takadagawa stable, CNN reported.

Last month, Takadagawa's stablemaster also tested positive for coronavirus. So far, six members of the sumo association have been diagnosed with the virus, per CNN. The coronavirus outbreak has forced the Sumo Association to cancel its upcoming Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, while the July 2020 tournament has been moved to Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan behind closed doors. The Sumo Association's annual March tournament, held in Osaka, still took place, but without spectators, with the competing wrestlers surrounded only by a handful of judges.

As of Wednesday morning, May 13, Japan has 15,968 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while 657 people have died from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to John's Hopkins University's database.

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