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Sunday, Dec. 23, 2007

JSA plans training tour in Mongolia

Kyodo News

The Japan Sumo Association will hold a training tour of Mongolia in late August 2008 for top wrestlers, the first tour of its kind to Mongolia in sumo history, the JSA tour department said Friday.

Exhibition matches will be held in Ulan Bator for two days between top-tier makuuchi division wrestlers during a five-day trip to the country that boasts yokozuna Hakuho and Asashoryu, tour director Oshima said.

In a board meeting at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Friday, some members brought up problems related to Asashoryu, who had to sit out the previous two grand sumo meets due to a suspension imposed by the JSA for missing a regional summer tour after he apparently feigned the extent of his injuries.

But JSA Chairman Kitanoumi said, "We have Mongolian yokozuna on both the east and west sides. Now is the best time to taka a tour to Mongolia."

With the return of Asashoryu from the two-tournament ban, a total of 13 Mongolians will compete in the makuuchi and second-tier juryo divisions in the Jan. 13 to 27 New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The tour department is considering having all Mongolian wrestlers, including those in the third-tier makushita division, take part in the tour.

"It would be great to step into the raised ring in my home country. I hope for the success of the tour," Asashoryu said.

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