OTTAWA - The Canadian Olympic Committee urged Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's office to fast-track the Canadian citizenship of a Chinese-born table tennis star in time for him to compete for Canada at the summer Games, a newly released document shows.

A short time later, Eugene Zhen Wang, the top-ranked table tennis player in North America, was a Canadian citizen.

"I am writing to you regarding Mr. Zhen Wang's request for an exceptional early granting of Canadian citizenship," says a May 11 letter to Kenney's office.

"The Canadian Olympic Committee supports Mr. Wang's request and I am writing to confirm that Mr. Wang would be eligible to compete for Canada at the 2012 London Olympic Games if he is granted Canadian citizenship by July 4."

Canada's medal hopes were also tied to the speedy granting of the Olympic hopeful's citizenship.

"As we approach London 2012, Mr. Wang has distinguished himself in the sport of table tennis. His presence with Table Tennis Canada's national team has already furthered the progression of his talented young teammates," the letter says.

"His nomination to the 2012 Canadian Olympic team would benefit his fellow table tennis athletes and improve Canada's chances in London."

Wang was among the four members of Canada's Olympic table tennis team introduced during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations June 5 in London, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper — an avid table tennis player himself — praised the team and singled out Wang.

"I just want to add, in particular for Mr. Wang, he is to be doubly congratulated, because today he is also becoming a Canadian citizen," Harper said at the time.

The prime minister's former director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, who now works for the Canadian Olympic Committee, was at the London event with Harper. Kenney's office said it had no communication with Soudas about Wang's citizenship case.

Soon after the London event, Wang and his teammates attended the prime minister's garden party and took turns playing Harper on the front lawn of 24 Sussex Drive.

Kenney posted a photo on Twitter of himself and Wang at the garden party.

"Met new Canadian citizen & Olympic table tennis hopeful Eugene Zhen Wang @ PM's media garden party," the minister wrote.

The 26-year-old's spot on the Canadian men's team was far from assured going into the Games.

Because Wang had not yet received his Canadian citizenship, he had to watch from the sidelines as his teammates competed for an Olympic berth at the North American Olympic trials in April.

The Canadians qualified for the Olympics, and Wang received his citizenship with a month to spare. At the Games, however, the Canadian men's team suffered a first-round defeat to Japan.

The names of the sender and recipient of the Canadian Olympic Committee letter are blacked out in the copy released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The letter is addressed to the "Director of Case Management, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada." It comes from someone with New Brunswick and Eastern Ontario phone numbers.

Kenney's office said Wang qualified for something called "five-four citizenship." That refers to Section 5(4) of the Citizenship Act, which states that the minister may grant Canadian citizenship "to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada."

The minister's office says "five-four citizenship" has been awarded roughly 500 times going back to 1977, often to athletes who have to travel around the world, and therefore do not meet the specific requirements for Canadian citizenship.

"Many athletes have been granted this exemption because their intense, international training and competition schedules may preclude them from fulfilling certain requirements," press secretary Alexis Pavlich said in an email.

Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said it's well within the law to expedite cases such as Wang's.

"It works when you have what they call 'national interest.' And it's all above board, been done for literally more than 30 years. And the deal is, they just basically fast-track it on an emergency basis," he said.

"They take the file and they go, 'Okay, is it real? And is it going to benefit Canada?'"

At that point, it doesn't take long to grant Canadian citizenship to suitable applicants. "They just put it at the head of the queue, get it done lickety-split," Kurland said.

But moving someone to the front of the line can push someone else back, he added.

"It'll bump someone to the next three-month window," Kurland said. "So someone will suffer a 90-day loss."

The Canadian Olympic Committee said it has made similar requests on behalf of athletes prior to previous Olympic Games and will continue to do so in the future.

"The Canadian Olympic Committee works closely with national sport federations and sends letters for such cases to support their requests," Soudas said in an email.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Dominika Kopcik

    <b>Age</b>: 23<br> <b>Sport</b>: Synchronized swimming<br> <b>Born</b>: Toronto, ON <i>Seen here with an Paralympic swimmer Benoit Huot at the Gold Medal Plates competition in 2011.</i>

  • Dominika Kopcik

  • Gabe Bergen

    <b>Age</b>: 30<br> <b>Sport</b>: Rowing<br> <b>Born</b>: Dawson Creek, BC

  • Gabe Bergen (And Teammates)

  • Meaghan Benfeito

    <b>Age</b>: 23<br> <b>Sport</b>: Diving<br> <b>Born</b>: Montreal, QC<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://@MegBenfeito" target="_hplink">@MegBenfeito</a>

  • Meaghan Benfeito

  • Sergio Pessoa

    <b>Age</b>: 23<br> <b>Sport</b>: Judo<br> <b>Born</b>: Sao Paulo, Brazil (his family moved to Canada when he was a boy)<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/sergiopessoa" target="_hplink">@sergiopessoa</a>

  • Sergio Pessoa

  • Jennifer Abel

    <b>Age</b>: 20<br> <b>Sport</b>: Diving<br> <b>Born</b>: Montreal, QC<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/JennAbel91" target="_hplink">@JennAbel91</a>

  • Jennifer Abel

  • Tory Nyhaug-Heinonen

    <b>Age</b>: 20<br> <b>Sport</b>: BMX<br> <b>Born</b>: Coquitlam, BC<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/Tnyhaug49/" target="_hplink">@Tnyhaug49</a>

  • Tory Nyhaug-Heinonen

  • Sarah Wells

    <b>Age</b>: 22<br> <b>Sport</b>: Hurdles<br> <b>Born</b>: Markham, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/SarahWells400mh" target="_hplink">@SarahWells400mh</a>

  • Sarah Wells

  • Martin Reader

    <b>Age</b>: 28<br> <b>Sport</b>: Beach volleyball<br> <b>Born</b>: Comox Valley, BC<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/martinjreader" target="_hplink">@martinjreader</a>

  • Martin Reader

  • Perdita Felicien

    <b>Age</b>: 31<br> <b>Sport</b>: Hurdler<br> <b>Born</b>: Oshawa, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/perditafelicien/" target="_hplink">@perditafelicien</a>

  • Perdita Felicien

  • Paula Findlay

    <b>Age</b>: 23<br> <b>Sport</b>: Triathalon<br> <b>Born</b>: Edmonton, AB<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/PaulaFindlay" target="_hplink">@PaulaFindlay</a>

  • Paula Findlay

  • Greg Douglas

    <b>Age</b>: 22<br> <b>Sport</b>: Sailing<br> <b>Born</b>: St. Michael, Barbados<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/gregdouglassail" target="_hplink">@gregdouglassail</a>

  • Greg Douglas

  • Mary Spencer

    <b>Age</b>: 27<br> <b>Sport</b>: Boxing<br> <b>Born</b>: Wiarton, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/canadianboxer" target="_hplink">@canadianboxer</a>

  • Mary Spencer

  • Siddhartha Bhat

    <b>Age</b>: 22<br> <b>Sport</b>: Taekawndo<br> <b>Born</b>: Toronto, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/kingbhat" target="_hplink">@KingBhat</a>

  • Siddhartha Bhat

  • Lauren Sesselmann

    <b>Age</b>: 28<br> <b>Sport</b>: Football<br> <b>Born</b>: Stevens Point, Wisconsin (her father is Canadian)<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/lsesselmann/" target="_hplink">@lsesselmann</a>

  • Lauren Sesselmann

  • Joëlle Numainville

    <b>Age</b>: 24<br> <b>Sport</b>: Cycling<br> <b>Born</b>: Montreal, QC<br>

  • Joëlle Numainville

  • Tobias Oriwol

    <b>Age</b>: 27<br> <b>Sport</b>: Swimming<br> <b>Born</b>: Toronto, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/tobiasoriwol" target="_hplink">@tobiasoriwol</a>

  • Tobias Oriwol

  • Emily Batty

    <b>Age</b>: 24<br> <b>Sport</b>: Cycling<br> <b>Born</b>: Oshawa, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/emilybatty/" target="_hplink">@emilybatty</a>

  • Emily Batty

  • Mark Oldershaw And Mark de Jonge

    <i>Ed's note: It was hard to pick just one member of the canoe/kayak team, so we opted for a dual picture. Shown here: Mark Oldershaw and Mark de Jonge, though <a href="http://olympic.ca/team-canada/sports/flatwater/london-2012" target="_hplink">Hugues Fournel, Adam van Koeverden, Jason McCoombs and Ryan Cochrane</a> are worth a look too.</i><br> <b>Oldershaw</b><br> <b>Age</b>: 29<br> <b>Sport</b>: Canoe/kayak - flatwater<br> <b>Born</b>: Burlington, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/markoldershaw/" target="_hplink">@markoldershaw</a><br> <b>De Jonge</b><br> <b>Age</b>: 28<br> <b>Sport</b>: Canoe/kayak - flatwater<br> <b>Born</b>: Calgary, AB<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/markadejonge" target="_hplink">@markadejonge</a><br>

  • Mark Oldershaw

  • Michele Li

    <b>Age</b>: 20<br> <b>Sport</b>: Badminton<br> <b>Born</b>: Hong Kong (moved to Canada as a child)<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/miichelleli" target="_hplink">@miichelleli</a>

  • Michele Li

  • Milos Raonic

    <b>Age</b>: 21<br> <b>Sport</b>: Tennis<br> <b>Born</b>: Thornhill, ON<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/milosraonic" target="_hplink">@milosraonic</a>

  • Milos Raonic

  • Sandra Sassine

    <b>Age</b>: 32<br> <b>Sport</b>: Fencing<br> <b>Born</b>: Montreal, QC<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/SandraSassine" target="_hplink">@SandraSassine</a>

  • Sandra Sassine

  • Alexandre Despatie

    <b>Age</b>: 27<br> <b>Sport</b>: Diving<br> <b>Born</b>: Montreal, QC<br> <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/adespatie" target="_hplink">@adespatie</a>

  • Alexandre Despatie


Loading Slideshow...
  • James Roberts

    <b>From</b>: Australia <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Men's 100m Freestyle; Men's 4x100m Freestyle Relay <b>Age</b>: 21 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/James__Roberts" target="_hplink">@James_Roberts</a>

  • Xue Chen

    <b>From</b>: China <b>Field</b>: Women's Beach Volleyball <b>Age</b>: 23

  • Tom Daley

    <b>From</b>: Great Britain <b>Field</b>: Diving in Men's 10m Platform; Men's Synchronised 10m Platform <b>Age</b>: 18 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/tomdaley1994" target="_hplink">@tomdaley1994</a>

  • Marsha Marescia

    <b>From</b>: South Africa <b>Field</b>: Women's Hockey <b>Age</b>: 29 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/MarshaM8" target="_hplink">@MarshaM8</a>

  • David Rudisha

    <b>From</b>: Kenya <b>Field</b>: Athletics in Men's 800m <b>Age</b>: 23 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/rudishadavid" target="_hplink">@rudishadavid</a>

  • Daniela Hantuchová

    <b>From</b>: Slovakia <b>Field</b>: Tennis in Women's Singles and Women's Doubles <b>Age</b>: 29 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/dhantuchova" target="_hplink">@dhantuchova</a>

  • Alina Talay

    <b>From</b>: Belarus <b>Field</b>: Athletics in Women's 100m Hurdles <b>Age</b>: 23

  • Bronte Barratt

    <b>From</b>: Australia <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Women's 200m Freestyle; Women's 400m Freestyle; Women's 4x200m Freestyle Relay <b>Age</b>: 23 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/BronteBarratt" target="_hplink">@BronteBarratt</a>

  • Sophie Polkamp

    <b>From</b>: Netherlands <b>Field</b>: Women's Hockey <b>Age</b>: 28 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/SophiePolkamp" target="_hplink">@SophiePolkamp</a>

  • Marketa Slukova

    <b>From</b>: Czech Republic <b>Field</b>: Women's Beach Volleyball <b>Age</b>: 24

  • Elsa Baquerizo

    <b>From</b>: Spain <b>Field</b>: Women's Beach Volleyball <b>Age</b>: 25

  • Darya Klishina

    <b>From</b>: Russia <b>Field</b>: Women's Long Jump <b>Age</b>: 21 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/DaryaKlishina" target="_hplink">@DaryaKlishina</a>

  • Leryn Franco

    <b>From</b>: Paraguay <b>Field</b>: Women's Javelin Throw <b>Age</b>: 30 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/LerynFranco" target="_hplink">@LerynFranco</a>

  • Stephanie Rice

    <b>From</b>: Australia <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Women's 200m Individual Medley; Women's 400m Individual Medley <b>Age</b>: 24 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/ItsStephRice" target="_hplink">@ItsStephRice</a>

  • Dominika Cibulkova

    <b>From</b>: Slovakia <b>Field</b>: Tennis in Women's Singles and Women's Doubles <b>Age</b>: 23 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/cibulkova" target="_hplink">@cibulkova</a>

  • Clemente Russo

    <b>From</b>: Italy <b>Field</b>: Boxing in Men's Heavy (91kg) <b>Age</b>: 30 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/ClementeRusso" target="_hplink">@ClementeRusso</a>

  • Ellen Hoog

    <b>From</b>: Netherlands <b>Field</b>: Women's Hockey <b>Age</b>: 26 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/EllenHoog" target="_hplink">@EllenHoog</a>

  • Hulk

    <b>From</b>: Brazil <b>Field</b>: Men's Football <b>Age</b>: 26

  • Philipp Boy

    <b>From</b>: Germany <b>Field</b>: Gymnastics - Artistic on Men's Team <b>Age</b>: 25 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/PhilippBoy1" target="_hplink">@PhilippBoy1</a>

  • Christina Vukicevic

    <b>From</b>: Norway <b>Field</b>: Athletics in Women's 100m Hurdles <b>Age</b>: 25 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/Cvukicevic" target="_hplink">@Cvukicevic</a>

  • Mathias Raymond

    <b>From</b>: Monaco <b>Field</b>: Rowing in Men's Single Sculls <b>Age</b>: 26 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/MathiasJO2012" target="_hplink">@MathiasJO2012</a>

  • Antonija Misura

    <b>From</b>: Croatia <b>Field</b>: Women's Basketball <b>Age</b>: 24

  • Blair Evans

    <b>From</b>: Australia <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Women's 400m Individual Medley; Women's 4x200m Freestyle Relay <b>Age</b>: 21 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/BlairEvans" target="_hplink">@BlairEvans</a>

  • Ashton Eaton

    <b>From</b>: United States <b>Field</b>: Men's Decathlon <b>Age</b>: 24 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://de.twitter.com/AshtonJEaton" target="_hplink">AshtonJEaton</a>

  • Victoria Azarenka

    <b>From</b>: Belarus <b>Field</b>: Tennis in Women's Singles and Mixed Doubles <b>Age</b>: 23 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/vika7" target="_hplink">@vika7</a>

  • Bill Lucas

    <b>From</b>: Great Britain <b>Field</b>: Rowing in Men's Double Sculls <b>Age</b>: 24 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/BillLucas2012" target="_hplink">@BillLucas2012</a>

  • Edinson Cavani

    <b>From</b>: Uruguay <b>Field</b>: Men's Football <b>Age</b>: 25 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/ECavaniOfficial" target="_hplink">@ECavaniOfficial</a>

  • Dorian Van Rijsselberge

    <b>From</b>: Netherlands <b>Field</b>: Sailing in Men's RS-X <b>Age</b>: 23 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/dorsports" target="_hplink">@dorsports</a>

  • Ryan Lochte

    <b>From</b>: United States <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Men's 200m Freestyle; Men's 200m Backstroke; Men's 200m Individual Medley; Men's 400m Individual Medley; Men's 4x100m Freestyle Relay; Men's 4x200m Freestyle Relay <b>Age</b>: 28 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/ryanlochte" target="_hplink">@ryanlochte</a>

  • Aldo Montano

    <b>From</b>: Italy <b>Field</b>: Fencing in Men's Individual Sabre and Men's Team Sabre <b>Age</b>: 33 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/aldomontano0586" target="_hplink">@aldomontano0586</a>

  • Emilie Gomis

    <b>From</b>: France <b>Field</b>: Women's Basketball <b>Age</b>: 28 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/emiliegomis" target="_hplink">@emiliegomis</a>

  • Dong Dong

    <b>From</b>: China <b>Field</b>: Men's Trampoline <b>Age</b>: 23

  • Eamon Sullivan

    <b>From</b>: Australia <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Men's 50m Freestyle; Men's 4x100m Freestyle Relay <b>Age</b>: 26 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/Eamon_Sullivan" target="_hplink">@Eamon_Sullivan</a>

  • Cameron van der Burgh

    <b>From</b>: South Africa <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Men's 100m Breaststroke and Men's 4x100m Medley Relay <b>Age</b>: 24 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/Cameronvdburgh" target="_hplink">@Cameronvdburgh</a>

  • Catalina Ponor

    <b>From</b>: Romania <b>Field</b>: Gymnastics - Artistic on the Women's Team <b>Age</b>: 24 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/CPonor" target="_hplink">@CPonor</a>

  • Rachel Yurkovich

    <b>From</b>: United States <b>Field</b>: Women's Javelin Throw <b>Age</b>: 25 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/RachY1022" target="_hplink">@RachY1022</a>

  • Maria Laura Abalo

    <b>From</b>: Argentina <b>Field</b>: Rowing in Women's Pair <b>Age</b>: 30 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/lau_abalo13" target="_hplink">@lau_abalo13</a>

  • Jonathan And Kevin Borlee (Twins)

    <b>From</b>: Belgium <b>Field</b>: Athletics in Men's 400m and Men's 4 x 400m Relay <b>Age</b>: 24 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/BorleeOfficial/" target="_hplink">@BorleeOfficial</a>

  • Josateki Naulu

    <b>From</b>: Fiji <b>Field</b>: Judo, Men's 81kg <b>Age</b>: 28

  • Elisa Di Francisca, Arianna Errigo, Valentina Vezzali and Ilaria Salvatori

    <b>From</b>: Italy <b>Field</b>: Women's Team Fencing <b>Age</b>: 29, 24, 38 and 33 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/aryerri" target="_hplink">@aryerri</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/salvaila" target="_hplink">@salvaila</a>

  • Emma Coburn

    <b>From</b>: United States <b>Field</b>: Athletics in Women's 3000m Steeplechase <b>Age</b>: 21 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/emmajcoburn" target="_hplink">@emmajcoburn</a>

  • Ivet Lalova

    <b>From</b>: Bulgaria <b>Field</b>: Athletics in Women's 100m and Women's 200m <b>Age</b>: 28 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/IvetLalova" target="_hplink">@IvetLalova</a>

  • Yohan Blake

    <b>From</b>: Jamaica <b>Field</b>: Athletics in Men's 100m, Men's 200m and Men's 4 x 100m Relay <b>Age</b>: 22 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/YohanBlake" target="_hplink">@YohanBlake</a>

  • Ryan Nelsen

    <b>From</b>: New Zealand <b>Field</b>: Men's Football <b>Age</b>: 34 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/ryannelsen1" target="_hplink">@ryannelsen1</a>

  • Agnes Szavay

    <b>From</b>: Hungary <b>Field</b>: Tennis in Women's Singles and Women's Doubles <b>Age</b>: 23

  • Camille Lacourt

    <b>From</b>: France <b>Field</b>: Swimming in Men's 100m Backstroke and Men's 4x100m Medley Relay <b>Age</b>: 27 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/CamLacourt" target="_hplink">@CamLacourt</a>

  • Anthony Ogogo

    <b>From</b>: Great Britain <b>Field</b>: Boxing in Men's Middle (75kg) <b>Age</b>: 23 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/AnthonyOgogo" target="_hplink">@AnthonyOgogo</a>

  • Chay Lapin

    <b>From</b>: United States <b>Field</b>: Men's Water Polo <b>Age</b>: 25 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="https://twitter.com/ChayLapin" target="_hplink">@ChayLapin</a>

  • Fabiana Murer

    <b>From</b>: Brazil <b>Field</b>: Women's Pole Vault <b>Age</b>: 31

  • Oliver Buff

    <b>From</b>: Switzerland <b>Field</b>: Men's Football <b>Age</b>: 20 <b>Twitter</b>: <a href="http://twitter.com/AnthonyOgogo" target="_hplink">@AnthonyOgogo</a>