Yokozuna Hakuho has withdrawn from the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament with an injured knee, meaning a competition will start without three current yokozuna for the first time since the start of the Showa Era (1926-1989).

The grand champion reported the decision to the Japan Sumo Association on the morning of Sept. 8 ahead of its meeting to schedule bouts for the tournament at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, which starts Sept. 10.

Hakuho joins Kisenosato, 31, who belongs to the Tagonoura stable, and Kakuryu, 32, of the Izutsu stable, on the injured list.

Hakuho, 32, from the Miyagino stable, is the most experienced yokozuna and the latest news follows his dropping out of the summer regional training tour in August due to a left knee injury.

The Mongolian wrestler was the favorite to win his third consecutive tournament and thus extend his own record of career titles to 40.

Hakuho attended the Yokozuna Promotion Council's official practice session held Sept. 1, but did not wrestle there.

In the run-up to the Tokyo tournament, Hakuho has been unable to take part in training bouts with ranking wrestlers and has therefore been unable to prepare adequately.

Hakuho's stablemaster, Miyagino, the former makuuchi wrestler Chikubayama, revealed that Hakuho had hoped to compete in the autumn tournament and nail his 40th championship.

Hakuho told his master, “I wish I had more time (to condition my body)” on the evening of Sept. 7 when he made the decision.

“Hakuho cannot bend his knee for a sustained period. I am sure he is mortified (at the situation),” Miyagino said. “Probably, he would like to wrestle in a perfect condition rather than causing trouble to others by wrestling in an awkward manner.”

Harumafuji will now be the only yokozuna who will compete in the autumn tournament. The Mongolian yokozuna is also hampered by an old injury to his left elbow and some other areas, which could adversely affect his fighting condition during the two-week competition.