The 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, scheduled for March 21-27 in Tokyo, will be postponed following the massive earthquake in Japan last week, a news report claimed Monday.
Organized by the International Skating Union (ISU), the world championships were to be held at Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo. But citing an anonymous source, Kyodo News in Japan reported that the event will be put off because Japan is still dealing with the aftermath of the 9.0-magnitude quake that has claimed thousands of lives. The country is also faced with nuclear crisis after explosions at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, about 240 kilometers north of Tokyo.
Kyodo News said the ISU was expected to make an official announcement later Monday. The governing body of figure skating said on Sunday that ongoing developments in Japan were "very worrisome" and that it would monitor the situation along with the Japan Skating Federation (JSF).
On Friday, hours after the quake hit Japan, the ISU had said the JSF had claimed the situation in Tokyo was "settled" and that Yoyogi Stadium was "suitable" for the championships. The Japanese capital, however, has since been hit with aftershocks and Germany has said it would not send its skaters to Tokyo for the championships even if the event were held as planned, after the German government advised its citizens not to travel to Japan.
The world figure championships have been canceled once before in 1961, when a plane carrying the U.S. skating team crashed on its way to Prague and killed all the skaters.
The postponement would also throw off the spring schedule for South Korean figure star Kim Yu-na, who would have made her first competitive appearance in about a year.
Kim, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and the 2009 world champion, hasn't competed since last year's worlds, where she finished second to Mao Asada of Japan. After parting with coach Brian Orser in August, Kim teamed up with Peter Oppegard and has set her short program to the ballet "Giselle" and her free skating routine to a compilation of traditional Korean music called "Homage to Korea."
After worlds, Kim had been scheduled to join the 2018 Winter Olympics bidding committee for PyeongChang, a South Korean alpine town, in her capacity as an honorary ambassador.
PyeongChang is scheduled to give presentations on the international stage through April and May, including the official bid city briefing at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland from May 18-19.
PyeongChang is up against Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France, and the host city will be decided at the IOC General Assembly on July 6 in Durban, South Africa.
Kim also announced last week that she would have an ice show in Seoul from May 6-8. Kim has yet to make any scheduling changes. All That Sports, her Seoul-based agency, said it will adjust the skater's schedule according to the ISU's official announcement.
"도쿄 피겨선수권대회 연기"<日언론>
'피겨 여왕' 김연아(21·고려대)가 복귀하는 무대가 될 것으로 예상됐던 도쿄 피겨스케이팅 세계선수권대회가 일본을 강한 지진으로 결국 연기됐다.
일본 교도통신은 14일 오는 21~27일 열릴 예정이던 도쿄 피겨 세계선수권대회가 연기되는 쪽으로 가닥이 잡혔다며 국제빙상경기연맹(ISU)이 이날 중 이를 공식 발표할 것이라고 전했다.
ISU는 지진 후 폭발사고가 일어난 후쿠시마 원전 사태가 아직 수습되지 않은 점을 들어 연기를 결정한 것으로 알려졌다.
일본 스포츠 전문지인 닛칸스포츠도 "대지진의 영향으로 도쿄 피겨 세계선수권 대회가 연기됐다"고 전했다.
이 대회를 주관하는 ISU는 지난 11일 강진이 발생한 직후 "대회 개최에 문제가 없다"는 일본빙상연맹 측의 말을 근거로 강행 쪽에 무게를 실어왔다.
하지만 지진 피해가 애초 예상했던 것보다 큰 것으로 드러나고 후쿠시마 원전 폭발 등으로 또 다른 피해가 예상되자 대회를 강행하기가 어렵다는 결론을 내린 것으로 보인다.
이와 관련, 김연아의 매니지먼트사인 올댓스포츠는 "아직 공식적으로 연락받지못했다"며 ISU의 발표 내용에 맞춰 일정을 조정할 계획이라고 밝혔다.