Canadian Tran considering Japanese citizenship for Sochi
Wednesday, 09 May 2012
May 9 - Canadian figure skater Mervin Tran could become a full Japanese national in time for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Tran (pictured above) recently competed for Japan with Narumi Takahashi (pictured above, right) at the World Championships in Nice, winning a bronze medal, but although the International Skating Union allowed him to take part in that event, he would need full citizenship for an Olympic Games.
On his official Twitter page Tran said he will "think critically about my decision as I would very much like to go" and Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda has said they were "willing to make a special request to the Government if necessary".
Five years of residency are required to become a naturalised Japanese citizen, though exceptions have been made in the past, and this could be the case with Tran.
The Japan Times quoted a senior politician, Seiko Hashimoto, also the Japan Skating Federation chief, as saying: "I would like for him to join the Japanese team for the Olympics".
Hashimoto has enjoyed a distinguished sports career, competing at four Winter Olympics in ice speed skating and three Summer Games as a track cycling sprinter.
Tran's hopes will be boosted by his achievements last month, when he helped Japan win its first World Team trophy at the Championships in Tokyo.
Figure skating is the oldest Winter Olympic sport and was a part of the Games as far back as the fourth Olympiad in London in 1908.
However, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will be the first time that the team event will be a part of the figure skating competition.