Tanahashi Says Performing Now Would Be a Black Eye to Japanese Wrestling

May 27, 2020 - by James Walsh

Hiroshi Tanahashi discussed the Japanese wrestling industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a new interview with Sports Illustrated. You can check out the highlights below:

On his dedication to NJPW: “New Japan Pro Wrestling is my home and my family. They gave me a chance when I had no future, and without this company, I wouldn’t be where I am.”

On NJPW suspending operations due to the pandemic: “The wrestling business is in an extremely difficult situation. After all, we are athletes in a contact sport and we perform in front of packed crowds. That’s a recipe for disaster right now. It’s hard to say when exactly we’ll have matches again, but I hope in the meantime wrestlers look after themselves, stay in top shape and keep fans hungry to see us when we can come back.”

On how the Japanese scene is dealing with the pandemic: “There isn’t a governing body for Japanese pro wrestling. As such, we can’t necessarily enforce cancellations. That’s been the responsibility of each company. But to run events in the middle of a pandemic presents the wrong image of professional wrestling to society and would deal a black eye to the industry that might still remain even after the pandemic ends. I thought it was important for us to come together, understand exactly what’s happening and do what’s right, even if that means returning to action after other pro sports.”

On his message for fans: “Just imagine something for me. Imagine that this pandemic is behind us and wrestling is back. Imagine thousands of fans together, cheering on the wrestlers fighting in the ring. Imagine those wrestlers, giving it absolutely everything they have. That mental image alone is pretty motivating. So please everyone, take care of yourselves. Let’s get through this, and we’ll meet again with smiles on our faces someday soon.”

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