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LEAD: Grand Sumo Tournament in London to be cancelled, bad economy cited+
[December 19, 2008]

LEAD: Grand Sumo Tournament in London to be cancelled, bad economy cited+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO, Dec. 20_(Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING DETAILS)

The planned 2009 London Grand Sumo Tournament will be cancelled due to the severe economic conditions, an official of the Japan Sumo Association said Saturday.

The association has been told by local sponsors that it would be impossible to stage the tour on account of the strong Japanese currency, sumo chief spokesman Kokonoe, former yokozuna grand champion Chiyonofuji, said.

"Given the current situation of the bad economy, it perhaps cannot be helped," Kokonoe said. "I will first report it at a meeting of the board."

The association's directors are scheduled to hold a regular meeting on Monday where they are expected to formally decide on the cancellation of the event, which had been planned to take place at the Royal Albert Hall in London from Oct. 7 through 11.

The strong yen has lifted the estimated cost of the event for the sponsors by around 60 percent from what they had initially expected, an association source said.

The pound has steadily lost ground against the yen after it was trading at just over 210 yen in summer. The prevailing rate last week was just under 140 yen to the pound.

The association last staged a London tour in 1991. The last overseas event was a tournament in Las Vegas in the United States in October 2005.

Apart from those tours of the sumo association, sumo wrestlers also participate in overseas events such as one in Mongolia in August.

Copyright ? 2008 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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