TOKYO (Reuters) - As Japan struggles to recover following last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Monday the nation would not stage the World Figure Skating Championships scheduled for March 21-27.
An ISU statement said it would be impossible to stage the event in Tokyo as planned, due to “the continued critical developments in Japan” and that the postponement of the event or its cancellation was under evaluation.
Friday’s 8.9 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami may have killed more than 10,000 people in what Prime Minister Naoto Kan has declared his country’s worst crisis since World War Two.
Infrastructure — from roads and rail to power and ports — has been crippled across much of the northeast of the country and there are fears of a major radiation leak from a stricken nuclear power plant in Fukushima, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, where engineers have been battling since the weekend to prevent a meltdown in three reactors.
Almost two million households were without power in the north, the government said. There were about 1.4 million without running water. Tens of thousands of people are missing.
Under the circumstances, the ISU decreed the world championships could not take place.
“The ISU in consultation and agreement with the Japan Skating Federation (JSF) and in line with the advice 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 statement read.
“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.”
Earlier, Japan’s J.League postponed all matches in March and the national team’s participation in the Copa America was thrown in doubt.
A total of 41 games were postponed to a date yet to be determined, but J.League chairman Kazumi Ohigashi said they would probably be held in July — the month Japan is due to make a guest appearance at the Copa America in Argentina, Japanese news agency Kyodo said.
Writing by Ossian Shine in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien