ROME — Six countries have put in bids to replace Japan as host of the world figure skating championships following the earthquake and tsunami that killed an estimated 18,000 people.
International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the bids are from Russia (Moscow), Canada (Vancouver, British Columbia), the United States (Colorado Springs, Colo., or Lake Placid, N.Y.), Finland (Turku), Croatia and Austria.
The Croatia offer is likely Zagreb, while Cinquanta believes Graz is Austria’s offer.
Russia appears to be the leading candidate, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin having spoken in favor of the bid Tuesday, saying “this is not a very expensive event and we are capable of taking care of all the expenses.”
The ISU council will vote Wednesday or Thursday on the site and determine the dates in late April or early May. There are 11 members of the council but Cinquanta will only vote if there’s a tie.
“Russia is a big country for skating,” Cinquanta said. “Russia’s is a strong bid, just like the others.”
Russia held the worlds in 2005 at the Luzhniki sports complex in central Moscow. But the ITAR-Tass news agency cited Russian figure skating federation president Alexander Gorshkov as saying that the most likely venue for the championships would be the Megasport arena, which is newer but far from the center.
Skate Canada offered the Pacific Coliseum, the figure skating venue at last year’s Vancouver Olympics, and said it could host April 18-24 or May 16-22.
Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said Vancouver’s bid is probably a long shot because Canada is already scheduled to host next year’s Grand Prix final as well as the 2013 world championships. But the federation is willing to help out in any way it can, whether it’s chosen or not.
“These were very exceptional circumstances, and we all feel sympathy and compassion for Japan, all the people there, and the Japanese Skating Federation,” Thompson said. “It was very clear over the last two days as we were working on this that people in Canada wanted to step forward and assist us so that the world championships could move forward.”
The worlds were scheduled to begin Monday in Tokyo, but were postponed due to the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The offers were sent to the ISU’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.