Schumer joins calls for US-made Olympic uniforms

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Schumer sent a letter to Olympic Committee Chairman Lawrence Probst on Friday in response to an ABC News report that the uniforms for American athletes at the opening ceremonies of the upcoming Olympics were actually made in China. Since the report, Schumer said he was able to iron out an agreement for Rochester-based uniform maker, Hickey Freeman, to make the American uniforms that would replace the Chinese-made ones.

"I was disappointed to learn that despite being sent to London by fellow Americas, their uniforms will be manufactured by Chinese citizens instead," Schumer writes in the letter. "This is particularly disappointing because there are many American manufactures capable of providing uniforms to our athletes. Hickey Freeman of Rochester, New York, for example, has recently offered to serve Team USA by producing sports coats and dress trousers even with such a short time frame."

Schumer added it was "particularly disappointing" that the manufacturer was China.

"The Chinese government habitually and flagrantly violates their international trade obligations to the detriment of both American and other international manufacturers," Schumer said. "The International Olympic Committee touts the importance of 'fair play' in their mission statement. For the USOC to choose a manufacturer that constantly ignores the principle of 'fair play' in international trade flies directly in the face of the purpose of the Olympic Games.

"I urge you to reconsider your decision to use a Chinese manufacturer for our Olympians’ uniforms and instead give your business to companies such as Hickey Freeman and their American workers who have offered to serve their nation in this capacity — both for this year’s games and all the upcoming 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia."

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Chinese-made uniforms should be burned and replaced with American-made ones.

"I am so upset that I think the [U.S.] 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," Reid told reporters Thursday.

Read the letter below:


July 13, 2012

Dr. Lawrence F. Probst

Chairman

United States Olympic Committee

 27 South Tejon

Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Dear Chairman Probst,

As we approach the 2012 Olympic Games, the United States Olympic Committee has a rare opportunity to showcase the strength and pride of the United States. Our athletes train countless hours to represent our nation, and private citizens help to send them there. I was disappointed to learn that despite being sent to London by fellow Americas, their uniforms will be manufactured by Chinese citizens instead.

This is particularly disappointing because there are many American manufactures capable of providing uniforms to our athletes. Hickey Freeman of Rochester, New York, for example, has recently offered to serve Team USA by producing sports coats and dress trousers even with such a short time frame. It is the honor of our athletes to represent the United States in the 2012 London Olympic Games; it should be the honor of American manufacturers to do the same.

While it is disappointing that the USOC has chosen to outsource the production of our Olympians’ uniforms, it is particularly concerning that they have chosen to use a Chinese manufacturer. The Chinese government habitually and flagrantly violates their international trade obligations to the detriment of both American and other international manufacturers. The International Olympic Committee touts the importance of “fair play” in their mission statement. For the USOC to choose a manufacturer that constantly ignores the principle of “fair play” in international trade flies directly in the face of the purpose of the Olympic Games.

I urge you to reconsider your decision to use a Chinese manufacturer for our Olympians’ uniforms and instead give your business to companies such as Hickey Freeman and their American workers who have offered to serve their nation in this capacity – both for this year’s games and all the upcoming 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. I ask that you allow all Americans, manufacturers as well as athletes, the opportunity to serve their nation in this important event. We are capable of making our uniforms in America – and we should.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
United State Senator

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