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Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier of Aurora, Ont skate to their first place finish in the Senior Dance Free Dance Program at the BMO Skate Canada Nationals being held in Victoria, B.C. Sunday, Jan 23, 2011. (Jonathan Hayward)
Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier of Aurora, Ont skate to their first place finish in the Senior Dance Free Dance Program at the BMO Skate Canada Nationals being held in Victoria, B.C. Sunday, Jan 23, 2011. (Jonathan Hayward)

Canada unlikely to land postponed world championships Add to ...

A German report suggests Vancouver is among the cities being considered to stage the 2011 world figure skating championships, after the event was postponed because of the growing nuclear crisis in Japan.

The International Skating Union has not issued a statement saying it is considering venues other than Tokyo. But a report from The Associated Press said ISU officials spent Monday scouting prospective replacement sites and that cities in Italy, Switzerland and South Korea are also potential candidates.

The event was to be held in Tokyo from March 21 to 27, but the recent earthquakes and tsunami that have devastated Japan and severely damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant derailed such plans, and speculation is rampant as skaters and ticket holders remain in limbo.

William Thompson, chief executive officer of Skate Canada, said Tuesday the ISU has not asked it to stage a replacement event. But he said Skate Canada has sent an e-mail to Peter Krick, the chairman of the ISU sports directorate, offering up its services, if needed.

"We put in an offer to help them in any way they saw fit. Not to interfere, but if they needed something from us, we were available to help, that's all," Thompson said, adding Skate Canada did not pitch Vancouver as a potential 2011 site to the ISU.

Thompson did say, however, if Canada was called upon to stage the world championships, the only places he'd consider are Vancouver or the Greater Toronto Area because they have airports easily accessible to international flights.

While Japan's worsening nuclear crisis has spawned such talk, ISU vice-president David Dore, who is not attending meetings at ISU headquarters in Japan, said he does not believe ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta is actively looking for other venues.

"It's not wise to make snap decisions," he said. "I think you want to just stand back and see how bad this is and then put everything into perspective. I think Cinquanta is trying to stand back and assess it.

"I think the news will go from bad to worse. And then it will come to a point where things level off. I think we've recorded the damage and now we have to record the solution."

Dore said he believes several countries and cities have sent letters of interest to the ISU, but they are not necessarily letters of action.

Thompson said, if asked, Skate Canada would do everything it could to stage the world championships, but "it wouldn't be particularly elegantly done."

"But I imagine we could get the basic infrastructure done and the athletes on the ice, depending on the dates."

He said he did not anticipate the 2011 event coming here for two reasons: Canada will play host to the world championships in London, Ont., two years hence, and at this late date, Skate Canada may not be able to get government support for the event, which could cost the ISU a lot of money.

Also, because of hockey playoffs at varying levels soon to start across the country, Canada might have no large venues available for a last-minute figure skating competition.

Dore said although Vancouver has a large number of hotel rooms, Vancouver hotels also have a high occupancy rate and might not be able to handle a large influx of athletes, coaches, media, officials and spectators.

The dire situation in Japan also puts the World Team Trophy figure skating event in April at risk. "I can't imagine fixing the infrastructure that quickly," Thompson said.

He added that on the last day of the 2007 world championships in Tokyo, he found himself in the middle of an earthquake that rocked his hotel back and forth while all the doors in the hotel opened and closed by themselves.

"It kind of freaked me out," he said.

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