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Published July 12, 2012
Outrage grows over US Olympic team's apparel
Not made in America?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed the U.S. Olympic Committee Thursday over reports that the Team USA uniforms were made in China, saying officials "should burn" them.
Reid, D-Nev., made the remarks following reports that China has already taken gold from America by manufacturing the uniforms Team USA will wear during the opening ceremonies.
“I think the Olympic Committee should be ashamed,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. He said they should "burn" the current uniforms, and would rather America's athletes wear shirts with "USA" hand-painted on them.
In a statement to FoxNews.com, the U.S. Olympic Committee said it was “proud” of its partnership with the company.
“Unlike most Olympic teams around the world, the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded and we’re grateful for the support of our sponsors," the statement read. "We’re proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company, and excited to watch America’s finest athletes compete at the upcoming Games in London.”
House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also responded to the growing controversy on Thursday.
"We take great pride in our Olympic athletes and try to watch them through as many of the trials as possible,” Pelosi told reporters during a congressional briefing. “I can’t wait to stay up all night to see as much as possible of them. We take such pride and they work so hard. They represent the very best and they’re so excellent, it’s all so beautiful.
“And they should be wearing uniforms made in America,” Pelosi said.
Boehner, meanwhile, said: “You’d think they’d know better.”
With corporate sponsor Ralph Lauren designing the duds, the job of making the red, white and blue uniforms falls to its apparel contractors in China, the New York Daily News reports. Every item in the uniforms that the U.S. athletes will wear at the opening ceremony in London will carry an overseas label.
The company, in a statement, said the outfits aim to embody "the spirit of American athleticism and sportsmanship."
But fashion designer Nanette Lepore said she was shocked that none of the uniforms had been made stateside, telling ABC News that it was “absolutely” possible that the Olympians could have been fitted in U.S.-made clothing for the opening ceremony.
Ralph Lauren also is dressing the Olympic and Paralympic teams for the closing ceremony and is providing casual clothes to be worn around the Olympic Village. Nike, meanwhile, has created many of the competition uniforms for the U.S. and outfits for the medal stand.
Prices for the apparel range from $55 for a beret to $795 for the men’s blazer.
In 2008, Ralph Lauren took criticism for an oversized logo on the opening ceremony uniform that some said overshadowed the Olympic rings, as well as reports that Chinese tailors worked overtime to finish the uniforms at the last minute.
"Lauren — and most likely his son David — celebrated not the spirit of athletic competition, but themselves and their brand, morphing our athletes into unpaid billboards for the "Polo™" pony and rider that has helped bring the Laurens great ... riches," The American Politics Journal wrote.