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By Chronicle Editorial Board
THE ISSUE: U.S. Olympic team uniforms made in China.
OUR OPINION: What’s next, Brazilian orange juice as the official U.S. Olympic team beverage?
It’s a decision that makes you wonder what they were thinking. Uniforms for the U.S. Olympic teams supplied by Ralph Lauren are made in China.
OK, we recognize that 98 percent of all apparel and 99 percent of all footwear sold in the U.S. is manufactured abroad, as textile industry representatives said in congressional testimony last year.
Still, this is for the United States Olympic Team — representatives of our country —wearing uniforms made by our biggest economic competitor.
This decision led to widespread criticism and a mea culpa from Ralph Lauren and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC).
While a representative of the USOC initially tweeted that the criticism was nonsense, the agency and Ralph Lauren now say while it is too late to remake the uniforms, the ones for the 2014 Winter Olympics will be made in the U.S.A.
It’s about time.
One would think that the USOC would have been sensitized a decade ago, when there was controversy over the berets for the 2002 team being made in Canada. But no, parts of the uniforms for the 2008 summer team and the 2010 winter team were made in China.
Perhaps with no one making an issue of these, folks at USOC and Ralph Lauren assumed no one would either notice or care the 2012 uniforms were made in China.
This is a decision on par with the 1872 observation by a professor of physiology that “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction,” or H.M. Warner’s 1927 statement “who wants to hear actors talk?”
With the current focus on American jobs and outsourcing of American products, the information about Olympic uniforms did not go unnoticed; hence the USOC’s pledge for the 2014 uniforms to be American-made.
This is a good decision, and we are glad they made it, though in reality they probably had no choice other than to make the commitment or live with a continuing avalanche of criticism.
Still, we are glad future Olympic uniforms will have “Made in America” sewn in their labels. Olympic athletes spend years conditioning their bodies to represent this country on the international stage. It seems that as a minimum, they should be wearing clothes made in America.