2011 Worlds in Limbo

Update 16 March:

 On 16 March, the ISU issued a statement that they will issue a statement -- either Friday, March 18, or Monday, March 21, or perhaps not.  Latest rumor is perhaps Russia in May or June, most likely in Moscow.  U.S. Figure skating has offered Lake Placid or Colorado Spring as possible sites, but Moscow appears to be the leading candidate if Worlds is not held in Japan this year.  Holding Worlds in this time frame make a lot more sense than in October which would cripple the 2011/12 Grand Prix and completely disrupt the schedule of the skaters next season.

Update 15 March:

ISU president Cinquanta was quoted in the Italian press describing three possible choices being considered by the ISU for holding Worlds: 1, cancel them completely; 2, hold them in Tokyo in October; 3, hold them in another country in October.  

Update 14 March:

Peter Krick indicated in the German media that the ISU was considering combining the World Championships with the Word Team Trophy in mid-April, in Yokohama.  An important consideration seems to be that the arena would be exempt from the rolling blackouts that have gone into effect in the Tokyo area.  Yokohama is located approx. 30 miles south of central Tokyo on the shores of Tokyo bay.

A third explosion occurred at the Fukushima power plant Tuesday, 15 March (Japan time), further complicating the decision on whether or when to hold Worlds.  In this third explosion damage to the containment vessel resulting in radiation leakage is feared.  The currently measured radiation levels are significantly higher than before the explosion, but 1/10 the level that would produce significant health risks.  Nevertheless, these higher radiation levels would also limit the amount of time any one person could work in the vicinity of the reactor.  There are strict limits on the amount of radiation workers can be exposed to before they must be relieved by others.

Yokohama is approx 200 miles from the stricken plant.  In the event of a major containment breach or complete meltdown, the impact at the plant would be catastrophic locally, but would not likely extend beyond tens of miles from the plant.

14 March 2011:

The ISU has issued the following statement:

Taking into account the continued critical developments in Japan, the ISUís primary concern for the safety of all participants, spectators and members of concerned entities as well as the travel advisories from many governments to avoid travel to Japan until the situation is settled, the ISU in consultation and agreement with the Japan Skating Federation (JSF) and in line with the advise of the Japanese authorities, has concluded that the staging of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2011 scheduled to be held on March 21-27, 2011 is not possible and the Championships will not be held during that time.


The postponement of the Event or alternatively the final cancellation is under evaluation.


The same applies to the ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating scheduled to be held in Yokohama on April 14-17, 2011.


It is understood that a postponement of the above-mentioned World Championships as well as the holding of the ISU World Team Trophy is subject to the confirmation by the competent Japanese authorities that the situation is back to normal conditions allowing the safe conduct of major ISU sports Events in the Tokyo area.


As soon as the situation in this respect has been finalized, the ISU will inform all parties concerned of the decision taken.

A Masterful Lack of Clarity!

The first shoe has dropped.  2011 Worlds will not begin on 20 March 2011 as scheduled.  When or if Worlds will be held remains an unknown.  As the World Team Trophy will also not be held on April 14-17, that implies World might begin no earlier than 18 April, a postponement of at least 4 weeks.  However the statement does not actually say that.

All we can say at this time is that 2011 Worlds will not begin on 20 March as scheduled, and that at some unknown time the ISU will decide to cancel it, or hold it at a future date still to be determined.

The possibility is also open that the Championships might be moved to another location. According to our sources Bern, Switzerland has offered to hold the competition in three or four weeks time. There is also a possibility of Torino (site of 2010 Worlds) or Malmo, Sweden.  According to IMG, Moscow and Vancouver have also expressed interest.

We hope that when the other shoe drops the ISU will allow enough time for participants and fans to make suitable travel arrangements.

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