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Russia has been picked to host this year's figure skating World Championships, replacing Japan which was forced to abandon its plans to stage the event following the deadly earthquake and tsunami.

"We have received an official letter from the International Skating Union (ISU), informing us that the 2011 World Championships will be held in Moscow," Valentin Piseyev, executive director of the Russian figure skating federation, said in a statement.

Piseyev said the competition would be held from April 25 to May 1 at the 14,000-seat Hodynka arena, built in 2007 to host that year's ice hockey World Championship.

Moscow 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 at least 23,000 people dead or missing and triggered a nuclear crisis by damaging a power plant 250 km north of Tokyo.

Several countries, including Canada, Italy, Finland and the United States, had also submitted bids.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered the Sports Ministry to "immediately set up an organising committee to prepare for the world championships".

"You must do all you can to have the best possible competition," Putin told the ministry officials.

On Tuesday, Putin said his country would cover all the costs of staging the event.

"I think we could give a helping hand to our Japanese colleagues as well as the (ISU)," he said.

"It's more of a goodwill gesture by us. It wouldn't cost too much, so we could cover all the expenses ourselves."

Russian officials said the World Championships would give their young skaters the perfect preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

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