Mitt Romney has asked Chinese officials to restore the visa of Olympic speedskater Joey Cheek so he can attend the Beijing Games.

Cheek's visa was pulled Wednesday, hours before he was to leave for Beijing.

Cheek, a gold medalist in the 2006 Winter Games, wasn't going to China to compete but to support 70 athletes trying to call attention to the genocide in Darfur. The athletes are hoping to convince governments such as China's to exert pressure on the Sudanese leadership.

Romney, a former Republican presidential contender and 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics chief, dictated a letter to his staff Thursday during a layover on his own trip to China. He is asking Chinese President Hu Jintou and Premier Wen Jiabao to restore the visa in consideration of his support for Beijing's Olympics bid and the "numerous courtesies" he says he extended Chinese officials in Salt Lake.