Still no decision on 2011 World Championships
Holding worlds in Japan in October is being discussed
|Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin are among the world qualifiers awaiting word on the final fate of the championships. (Michelle Harvath)|
By Lynn Rutherford and Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(03/16/2011) - Just days before the 2011 ISU World Figure Skating Championships were to start on March 20 in earthquake-battered Tokyo, the event is still in limbo. There is no new venue, date, or definitive cancellation for the championships, which were postponed by the International Skating Union (ISU) on March 14 due to concerns about the safety of the region following a massive earthquake and subsequent Tsunami on Japan's eastern coastline on March 11. Another 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit Shizuoka Prefecture on Tuesday, shaking Tokyo -- where the championships were to be held at Yoyogi Stadium. The new quake and strong aftershocks in the region have escalated concerns about exposure to dangerous levels of radiation from the Fukashima Daiichi nuclear power plant -- located 150 miles from Tokyo -- where four nuclear reactors have been compromised. An ambiguous statement issued by the ISU on Wed., March 16, states in part, "the ISU is doing its utmost in order to give further information on Fri., March 18, or Mon., March 21, if possible," has done nothing to end days of frenzied speculation among figure skating insiders, media and fans about a possible new location for worlds. Alternate sites discussed in press reports range from Gangneung, South Korea, site of the recent ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, to China; Vancouver, site of the 2010 Olympics; and various European cities, most prominently Lausanne, Switzerland, and Torino, Italy. In an interview on Wednesday with icenetwork.com, International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta confirmed that the ISU is considering holding the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships in Japan in October. "We have to give Japan time to mourn their victims," he said. "We might go to Japan in October when the problems of the nuclear power stations may be solved. "You cannot compare these problems with the ones in Chernobyl in the Soviet Union [Ukraine]." Earlier this week, ISU Chair Sports Directorate Peter Krick told German news agency DPA (Deutsche Presse Agentur) he is optimistic the ISU has found alternative locations for the event in Europe, and that the event could be held in April in Lausanne, Switzerland, or Torino, Italy. However, his boss refused to confirm Krick's statements. "We must take into account that Japan got the right to hold a world championships now," Cinquanta said. "There are rumors that several European cities are willing to hold worlds in April. I cannot confirm this, but do not deny this either. We have to solve some law problems first and this may take time." According to Cinquanta, one issue is pre-existing arrangements some better-known skaters have made to perform in tours and shows. "Some skaters emailed me they have exhibition contracts in April and cannot come to worlds in April," he said. That, along with concern for the Japanese Skating Federation and the country's many skating fans, has prompted the ISU to consider holding the event just prior to Skate America, the first of the fall Grand Prix events, scheduled to take place in Ontario, Calif., on October 21-23. Asked how the drastic change in timing could affect skaters' training, Cinquanta replied, "You cannot always listen to what the skaters want. These are exceptional circumstances. Some of the skaters are even minors."