USOC Promises Made-In-USA Uniforms For 2014 Olympics
Political Backlash Followed Last Week's Announcement
Following a political backlash last week after it was revealed that United States athletes will be wearing uniforms at the upcoming Olympic Games that were made in China, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and uniform maker Ralph Lauren have now promised that the team's uniforms for the next Olympics (the Winter Games in 2014 in Sochi, Russia) will be made in America.
While Ralph Lauren initially declined to comment on the criticism, the company has changed its stance for future Olympic Games and will provide uniforms to USA athletes that are made in America. "Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States," the company said in a statement.
Both the USOC and Ralph Lauren, which has a contract to produce the uniforms through 2020, say it is too late at this point to change the uniforms that the athletes will wear in the games that begin on July 27. But USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the organization is taking the complaints seriously. "We are absolutely committed to working with our sponsors to ensure that the concerns voiced are addressed," Blackmun said in a statement.
Those concerns spread to the ad specialty market, as a poll on www.asicentral.com since the news of the made-in-China uniforms broke last week clearly shows. A full 66% of respondents said they were outraged by the news, and only 17% said they weren't concerned at all by the fact that the uniforms were made in China.
Prior to the USOC and Ralph Lauren reversal, Congress was prepared to introduce legislation mandating that the uniforms be made in the USA. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who along with Representative Steve Israel (D-NY), wrote a letter to the USOC chairman Larry Probst complaining about the situation, released a statement after hearing about future uniform manufacturing plans. "When America's best athletes are representing our country on the world stage, we should be representing the best of American-made goods," she wrote. "While I am greatly disappointed our athletes will not be dressed head to toe in Made in the USA this year, I thank the USOC and Ralph Lauren for hearing our voices and working to correct this mistake going forward."