NEW YORK - Ralph Lauren's stylish uniforms for the US Olympic team, complete with a jaunty beret, have sparked a political row because the red, white and blue outfits were made in China.
With US unemployment hovering just above 8 per cent, politicians have spoken out against the uniforms for the London Games, which start later this month, and six Democratic senators said they plan to introduce legislation requiring the ceremonial uniforms be produced in the United States.
"At a time when too many Americans are looking for work and our manufacturers are closing factories, we need to do everything we can to keep jobs in America and not give the work of producing our iconic American uniforms for our Olympians to China," Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said in a statement announcing the measure.
The senators said they will introduce the "Team USA Made In America Act of 2012" next week.
"I call on the USOC (US Olympic Committee) to do the right thing for this summer's team, and I call on my colleagues to help pass this bill to ensure we don't find ourselves in this appalling, embarrassing situation before the opening of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics," Menendez said.
The Committee said in a statement late on Friday that it was too late to change the outfits ahead of the summer games in London, but it had agreed with Ralph Lauren to make apparel for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the United States.
"With athletes having already arrived in London, and the apparel distribution process beginning this weekend, we are unfortunately not able to make a change for London," it said.
"We are absolutely committed, however, to working with our sponsors to ensure that the concerns voiced are addressed. To that end, Ralph Lauren has agreed to domestically manufacture Team USA's apparel for Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games."