The World Figure Skating Championships scheduled to take place March 18 to 22 in Montreal have been canceled amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, organizers said Wednesday.

The International Skating Union and Skate Canada announced the development in a statement, saying they "have closely monitored the provincial and federal health authorities' position on the spread of the virus" and respect the need to take protective measures for the sake of participants and fans.

The event was to feature double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, fresh off a gold at the Four Continents in Seoul last month, as well as Shoma Uno representing Japan on the men's side, and world No. 1 Rika Kihira in the ladies' competitions.

In February, Hanyu revealed he was planning to execute a quad axel at the worlds but expressed both disappointment and relief after the announcement.

"The cancellation is unfortunate, but I'm relieved that the risk of infection to the athletes, to all the spectators and the business and operations staff, is reduced even if only by a little," Hanyu said.

An increasing number of large-scale events have been canceled or postponed worldwide due to the spread of the new coronavirus believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. The World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, previously set to begin Friday in Seoul, have already been postponed due to the virus.

According to World Health Organization data, more than 118,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, leading to nearly 4,300 deaths. South Korea, one of the hardest-hit countries, has seen more than 7,700 cases, while Canada has reported 93 infections so far.

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