Russian Sports Minister criticises “premature” Sochi bid


April 24, 2014 (ISN) – Sochi’s bid for the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships has been cast in doubt after it was criticised by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko for being submitted without Government approval.


Alexander Gorshkov, President of The Figure Skating Federation of Russia, had claimed a bid had been submitted to International Skating Union (ISU) to host the 2017 World Championships.

Under the proposal, the Championships would take place in 12,000-seater Iceberg Skating Palace, the venue built for Sochi 2014, before adding that “everything was in accordance with the procedure”, and “now we await the response from the ISU”.

Mutko, however, has condemned the announcement as premature and accused the Federation of breaking Russian law by submitting a bid for a major sports competition without Ministry approval.

“Not knowing the law doesn’t free you from responsibility,” he said, according to RiaNovosti

“We’ll look at the issue, there’s just no need to hurry.

“There’s a procedure, you have to contact the Government and the Sports Ministry, and we have to examine the possibilities and the financial resources.”

The World Championships, the biggest event in the figure skating calendar apart from the Olympics, are held annually and last took place in Russia in 2011 when they were moved to Moscow following the earthquake and tsunami that rendered it unable to be held in the initial location of Nagano in Japan.

The most recent Championships did take place in Japan, in Saitama last month, with the 2015 and 2016 events due to be held in Shanghai and Boston respectively.

The last time the Championships were held in Russia was in Moscow in 2011 ©Getty Images
The last time the Championships were held in Russia was in Moscow in 2011 ©Getty Images

If the 2017 event does take place in Sochi, it will be a boost for the sporting legacy of the city following the Games as well as a further event in Russia’s “Decade of Sport”.

This has already included the the World Athletics Championships in Moscow and Summer Universiade in Kazan in 2013, the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, while the 2016 World Ice Hockey Championships, the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk are among other top-class events due to be held in Russia. 

The multitude of events taking place in the world’s largest country also continued last week after Kazan was awarded the 2016 World Junior Athletics Championships.

But there have also been concerns to avoid too many events being held, and in February Mutko ruled out a Russian bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics to avoid congestion, after St Petersburg or Kazan were initially muted as potential contenders.

This was something he repeated with regard to the figure-skating bid, when he stressed that “we’re absolutely busy until 2021”. 

But he added that he would not “object” if the Federation funded the hosting of the Championships out of its own pocket.

When contacted by insidethegames, the ISU could not confirm or deny the bids made for the 2017 Championships, or whether any other bids had been launched in addition to the one by Sochi. 

Introductory photo: ©Getty Images


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