MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) - Russia made a formal bid to host this year’s figure skating world championships on Tuesday after Japan was forced to abandon its plans to stage the event following the deadly earthquake and tsunami.
“Today we sent a formal letter to The International Skating Union (ISU), telling them of our desire to stage the competition in Moscow,” Valentin Piseyev, executive director of the Russian figure skating federation, told reporters.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday his country would be willing to cover all the costs of staging the event in Moscow.
“I think we could give a helping hand to our Japanese colleagues as well as the (ISU),” Putin told Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko during a meeting.
“We are not demanding anything, it’s more of a goodwill gesture by us. It wouldn’t cost much, so we could cover all the expenses ourselves,” Putin added.
Moscow has proposed the 14,000-seat Hodynka arena, built in 2007 to host that year’s ice hockey world championship, as the venue. The Russian capital last hosted the world figure skating championships in 2005 at the old Luzhniki ice palace.
Last week, the ISU said it was seeking applications to stage the championships after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami left more than 21,000 people dead or missing and triggered a nuclear crisis by damaging a power plant 240 km north of Tokyo.
Canada, Italy, Finland and the United States have also expressed interest.
The ISU set Tuesday as the deadline for submitting applications and plans to announce the decision in a few days.
(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; editing by Martyn Herman)
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