THE LAST THING the United States’ fragile confidence needs, amid times of economic uncertainty, is news that Olympic uniforms that American sports stars will wear Chinese-made uniforms during London 2012.
Earlier this year, there was much fanfare when Ralph Lauren was announced as the official provider of uniforms to more than 800 athletes competing in the summer games.
The bombastic images of fresh-faced young athletes kitted out in crisp, tailored outfits in front of the star-spangled banner have been sullied somewhat by a row that has emerged over where the uniforms are being made.
Chinese textile workers have put together the Ralph Lauren gear, including jackets, glasses, luggage, shoes, hats, belts and beach towels, that athletes will wear in and around the Olympic Village.
The uniforms will be worn during the opening and closing ceremonies in London.
The clothing giants also provided the USA-monikered garb for Beijing 2008 and the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.
Congress is not amused
Politicians from the Republican and Democratic side of the Congress aisle have lined up to add their stern voices to the condemnation that has followed reports of the uniform production in Asia.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat – Nevada) said, “I am so upset. I think the (US) Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed.
I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.”
Reid’s major bone of contention is the fact that jobs could be provided for American workers to produce the uniforms. He added, “If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that’s what they should wear.”
House Speaker John Boehner, (Republican – Ohio) was less inflammatory with his comments but, when asked about the US Olympic Committee, remarked, “You’d think they’d know better.”
All change… from 2014
Business Insider reports that Ralph Lauren has declared its intention that all uniforms made for the Winter Olympics of 2014, which it has been contracted to provide, will be made in the USA.
The Ralph Lauren statement reads, “For more than 45 years Ralph Lauren has built a brand that embodies the best of American quality and design rooted in the rich heritage of our country.” It continued:
Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States.
We have committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.”