The Liberal Democratic Party’s sports advisory committee that works to fortify national sports said Thursday it will place its support behind world pairs bronze medalist Mervin Tran, who is trying to obtain Japanese citizenship in hope of competing for Japan at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The committee will make the push on behalf of Tran to a cross-party parliamentry group that backs sports.
Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said at an executive board meeting the same day that the JOC “is willing to make a special request (on behalf of Tran) to the government if necessary.”
The 21-year-old Tran, who is Canadian, won a bronze in the pair’s competition at this year’s world championships with Japan’s Narumi Takahashi. Tran also helped Japan to its first title at the World Team Trophy on Saturday.
In principle, five years of residency is required to become a naturalized Japanese citizen. However, exceptions have been made for foreigners who offer special services, as could be the case with Tran.
Japan Skating Federation chief Seiko Hashimoto, a member of the House of Councillors, stressed Tran’s proven track record of excellence.
“I would like for him to join the Japanese team for the Olympics. Somehow we need to get the approval of the Diet to clear the way for him,” Hashimoto said.