Photo/IllutrationYakitori grilled chicken skewers are popular among sumo fans at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan. (Takuya Isayama)

Fans watching sumo at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan work up a wrestler-size appetite that can only be satisfied by the grilled chicken skewers sold at the venue.

Now, the yakitori manufacturer, Kokugikan Service Corp., hopes to score a knockout with boxing fans at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The company prepares and sells tens of thousands of yakitori skewers at the venue in Sumida Ward during the Grand Sumo Tournaments, which are held there three times a year.

In recent years, the famed yakitori has also been sold at kiosks at JR Tokyo Station.

Organizers for the 2020 Tokyo Games asked the company to make them available at Ryogoku Kokugikan for sale during the Olympics when the venue is used in the boxing competition. They reached an agreement at the end of 2019.

The company plans to prepare and grill yakitori at night and deliver them in the early morning, just as they do in shipping for sales at Tokyo Station.

The skewers are prepared in a factory in the basement of the sumo arena. Kokugikan Service stocks raw chicken meat from Iwate Prefecture, marinates the poultry in a secret yakitori sauce and grills them.

A package containing three skewers of boneless chicken meat and two skewers of “tsukune” chicken meatballs sells for 700 yen ($6.40) including tax.

They go best with watching sumo and are delicious even cold, fans said.

Spectators with special tickets can watch the boxing competition at the Tokyo Olympics while sitting on a zabuton cushion in a “tatami” box seat, called “masuseki,” close to the action just like sumo spectators do.

About 32 portraits of past sumo tournament winners hanging from the ceiling of Ryogoku Kokugikan will remain in place and can be seen by spectators at the Olympics.

Kokugikan’s suspension roof will also remain uncovered.

The Olympic Broadcasting Services has asked to keep the facility as is so that the TV cameras can show a setting “very Japanese,” according to sources familiar with the arrangements.

The yakitori manufacturer will change the packaging from the current paper wrapping to a transparent one, out of consideration to the Olympics’ food and beverage sponsors.

(This article was written by Daisuke Maeda and Kensuke Suzuki.)