Philip Hersh: Ottavio Cinquanta says International Skating Union must decide fate of world championships within 'three or four days'
The ISU announced Monday the worlds would not take place in Tokyo as scheduled next week because of safety concerns as a result of the earthquake-related devastation in Japan. In its statement, the ISU said postponement or cancellation were under consideration.
Speaking to me exclusively by telephone from his home in Italy, Cinquanta said any thoughts of having the event at an alternate site must take into consideration "respect for the Japanese [and the fact that] it is not easy to move the championships.''
Cinquanta told me the issue was not whether Japanese skating officials would consider it disrespectful to move an event they had spent so much time and money planning before knowing whether it might be possible to hold it in Tokyo sometime soon.
"This is the World Figure Skating Championships, not the Japanese Figure Skating Championship,'' Cinquanta said. "[But] I must take into consideration respect for the Japanese no matter what we do.''
Cinquanta said he would make a personal choice on the best course of action but the ISU Council would ultimately decide the fate of the championships. He expected to speak with council members by Tuesday.
Cinquanta said he has had no discussions yet about specific alternate sites.
The best possibility for an alternate site would be China or South Korea, because their governments likely would cover all or some of the costs.
The South Koreans might see taking over at the 11th hour as a goodwill gesture that could help Pyeongchang's bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee will choose the 2018 host this summer.
A spokesperson for Skate Canada told me the figure skating championships would not be moved to Canada, which is to host the 2013 worlds in London, Ontario.
U.S. Figure Skating officials have told me there has been no discussion so far of moving the championships to the United States.
-- Philip Hersh
Photo: Ottavio Cinquanta speaks during a press conference Saturday. Credit: Uwe Lein / Associated Press