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Friday, Jan. 5, 2001

Ailing Akebono to skip New Year tournament

Yokozuna Akebono, winner of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in November, said Thursday he will skip the New Year meet that gets under way at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday because of pain in his knees.

The 31-year-old Akebono, holder of 11 Emperor's Cups, will miss all or part of a 15-day grand sumo tournament for the first time since November 1999 and for the 14th time in his 13-year career.

"I decided to pull out after consulting with my stable master this morning. I need to rest my knees, which hurt every time I move," Akebono said at his Azumazeki stable in Tokyo.

Akebono has not appeared in full practice sessions since late last month due to the knee problem, which he said resulted from fatigue.

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