Saturday, March 19, 2011

No easy decision.

With the disaster in Japan last week, figure skating has come to a standstill. Not only is one of the sports main supporting counties fighting to regain some sense of normalacy, but the World Figure Skating Championships were set to be held this week in Japan.

Then the earth shook and the waves came and all of that disappeared.

The International Skating Union's (ISU) President, Ottavio Cinquanta, spoke in a press release during the speed skating championships stating that the Figure Skating championships were being postponed out of respect for the Japanese people. When asked when he believed they would resume, he had no answer. Rumors are swirling on the ISU receiving bids from other nations ready to host, to saying dear ol' $peedy (Cinquanta) was pushing the championships until October.

Not many in the skating world can find compassion, empathy or even understanding when it comes to the ISU president, but the man is between a rock and a hard place. Some will critisize that he's even worried about something so trivial when thousands are without homes, without power, and thousands more are dead or missing. Others say that he's trying to come out with as much money as possible in this whole thing. Still others say he is not considering the athletes at all. Everyone, however, are upset that he's taking "so long" to make a decision and share it with the rest of us. But, think of it this way for a moment, he may actually be taking all of these points into consideration in making his decision.

October is the least favorite idea on how to handle the situation. How much recovery will Japan see in that time? Look at the Katrina efforts in the United States, they've built back up a bit, but so many are still in limbo and the government support has all but run out. There are new tragedies to worry about, and Americans are always better to help those across the oceans than across the street. Japanese may be more supportive of their own people, but we're not talking an overstuffed huricane with a broken levy. We're talking about a devastating earthquake followed by a large wall Tsunami. This is not something Brad Pitt and his team can go and convert into charity. This is not something we'll see get fixed in time for the next figure skating season. And we're not even talking about the Nuclear Radiation issue we're seeing now in Japan.

That leaves figure skating with two options: move Worlds to another locale in April or May... or cancel the entire thing. No easy choice for Cinquanta, even if he were better liked by the skating fandom at large. If he moves the event, he risks hurting the Japanese economy, as well as pride. They were so looking forward to the event, figure skating is at its height of popularity with the Japanese Public. Their champions are considered rock stars. Think figure skating in the 90s in the US and multiply it by about a thousand and you've got the interest level of Japan.

Cancel the event altogether and you risk killing the chances of dozens of skaters maximizing their potential. You will have fans in an uproar. The World Championships have only had one previous cancellation. That was in 1961 when the USFSA team was killed in a plane crash on their way to the event. This year marked the 40th anniversary and the USFSA just made their rounds with a new documentary film entitled Rise. The irony has not gone unnoticed by fans, but, again, it's on such a minimal scale compared to what the Japanese suffer at present.

Most of the skaters have voiced their concern for Japan, and the support of its People. They also have been very vocal about hating the current limbo they're all in with no definite plan for what lay ahead. Skaters have let their voice be heard in articles, on facebook, and twitter. There's no question that everyone is getting antsy before making any further plans.

So what is the president of the ISU to do? The decision is supposedly going to be decided on Monday. Fans have a petition going online to get the ISU to do anything but hold Worlds in October. Figure Skaters have also signed. No matter the outcome, some will be upset, others just thankful a decision was made. Still, our hearts and prayers stay with Japan.

(To sign the petition asking the ISU to forget the October option, please visit this page.)

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