WASHINGTON — Uniforms for U.S. Olympic athletes are American red, white and blue — but made in China. That has members of Congress fuming.
Republicans and Democrats railed Thursday about the U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to dress the U.S. team in Chinese manufactured berets, blazers and pants while the American textile industry struggles economically, with many U.S. workers desperate for jobs.
“I am so upset. I think the 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,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
“If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that’s what they should wear,” he said, referring to an athletic jersey.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is proud of the nation’s Olympic athletes, but “they should be wearing uniforms that are made in America.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said simply of the USOC, “You’d think they’d know better.”
In a statement, the U.S. Olympic Committee defended the choice of designer Ralph Lauren for the clothing at the London Games, which begin July 27.
“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,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. “We’re proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company. ...”
Ralph Lauren also is dressing the Olympic and Paralympic teams for the closing ceremony and providing casual clothes to be worn around the Olympic Village. Nike has made many of the competition uniforms for the U.S. athletes.
On Twitter, Sandusky called the outrage over the made-in-China uniforms nonsense. The designer, Sandusky wrote, “financially supports our team. An American company that supports American athletes.”