TOKYO, May 1, 2009 (AFP) - Japan's sumo authority will give hundreds of wrestlers anti-virus face masks and liquid hand soap to keep swine flu out of the national sport, a spokeswoman said Friday.
"We have decided to distribute 10 masks to each one" of the more than 1,000 members of the Japan Sumo Association and their families, a spokeswoman said.
Reports said the association will buy 100,000 masks.
The association will also send anti-bacterial liquid soap to sumo stables with a recommendation that wrestlers wash their hands often, as well as gargle and take other health measures.
Association head Isenoumi, who like many sumo wrestlers uses only one name, reportedly also said that, with the May sumo season starting in a little over a week, "it is good manners toward fans to put on masks."
Wrestlers in the ancient sport, especially top-ranked ones, are supposed to be role models in Japanese society.
Japan's government Friday reported its first suspected case of swine flu early Friday. A final test result is expected to be released later in the day.