Vancouver pursuing relocated skating worlds

The International Skating Union says Canada is among six countries to have submitted bids to replace Japan as host of this year's figure skating world championships. Japan pulled out as a result of the recent earthquake and tsunami.

International Skating Union council will vote Wednesday or Thursday on site

Skate Canada has offered to host the displaced world figure skating championships in Vancouver in April or May.

Canada is one of six countries to have submitted bids to step in for Japan, which pulled out as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that have killed an estimated 18,000 people.

International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta told The Associated Press the others were Russia (Moscow), 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 favour of the bid Tuesday, saying "this is not a very expensive event and we are capable of taking care of all the expenses."

Skate Canada sounded a note of realism in its statement.

"Since we are already preparing to host two other major ISU events in the near future, the ISU Grand Prix Final of figure skating, 2011 (in Quebec City in December) and the ISU world figure skating championships, 2013, (in London, Ont.) we are not expecting to be awarded the event but did wish to provide the ISU with Vancouver as an option," CEO William Thompson said.

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 in the case of a tie.

"Russia is a big country for skating," Cinquanta said. "Russia's is a strong bid, just like the others."

Russia held the world championships 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 centre.

The championships 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.