Didier Gailhaguet, president of the French figure skating federation, says he does not see how the Japanese Skating Federation can stage a world championship following the disasters that have struck that country in the past week.
"It is a nightmare," he said by phone from France on Wednesday.
France brought home its European champion, Florent Amodio, this week after he had gone to train on a southern Japanese island with coach Nikolai Morozov the week before the world championships were to be held (March 21 to 27). The world championships have since been postponed indefinitely, although the International Skating Union is expected to make an announcement on the event's fate on Friday or Monday.
"We were really concerned about the radiation," Gailhaguet said. "We thought it best for him to get back. He really wanted to stay, but it was too dangerous. Two days after that, I think we made the right decision."
French coach Didier Lucine had also been in Japan, and he too returned.
Gailhaguet said skating delegations are "anxious" about going to Japan for the event and he believes that some skaters could be "scared."
However, he said he agrees with ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta that the skating world must respect the Japanese federation, although at the moment it would be too difficult to hold a world championship.
He also does not like an ISU suggestion that the world championships be postponed until October, because it pushes the event too close to the next season's Grand Prix events. The first of six Grand Prix - Skate Canada - will be held in Mississauga Oct. 21 to 23 and the other five follow in successive weeks in various cities.
Gailhaguet also thinks that the NHK Trophy, Japan's Grand Prix event, could also be in jeopardy because of the disasters, which he feels will not be settled within months. "It could take a year," he said.
If the world championships were to be held in October, skaters would need to train for four routines: two from last season for the 2011 world championships and two for the coming season. "As soon as the world championships would be over, they would start the Grand Prix," Gailhaguet said. "If you want the skaters to be at their peak in September or October, [for the next season] you are going to need a rest."
On the other hand, federations need to respect Japan's difficulties, he said. In trying to find a compromise to benefit Japan, he said the world championships that are already scheduled to take place in Nice, France, in March of 2012 could be shifted to allow the Japanese to hold the world championships then.
However, Gailhaguet suggested that the Nice event be shifted to March of 2013, which has already been awarded to London, Ont., and therefore, that the Canadian event be moved to March of 2014, a month after the Sochi Olympics.
"There's absolutely no way we'd go for that," said William Thompson, chief executive officer of Skate Canada. He pointed out that Canada had already taken on a post-Olympic world championship in 2006, with all of its attendant difficulties. "We have 2013," Thompson said. "That's just not in the cards at all. Nice try, Didier."
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