Beijing, July 16:(AFP) - Chinese state media responded angrily Monday to American lawmakers who last week expressed outrage that the US Olympic Team's uniforms for the London Games were made in China.
The official Xinhua news agency lashed out at the "ignorance" and "hypocrisy" of the lawmakers, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid who urged that the Ralph Lauren clothes be piled up and burned. "If there is anything that should be burned, it should really be the hypocrisy of US politics," Xinhua said in a commentary.
"The Olympic Spirit, which has nothing to do with politics, chants mutual understanding and fair play, so tagging the uniforms with politics by those US politicians exposes narrow nationalism and ignorance."
The debacle led to an apology on Sunday from the US Olympic Committee, which also announced that it was too late to change the uniforms before the Games which begin next week. "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," USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun 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."
The USOC bore the brunt of the criticism from Capitol Hill, where lawmakers often bicker over ways to keep US jobs, including in the textile industry, from heading overseas to low-wage economies like China, Vietnam and India. "The fury over the US Olympic uniforms is just another example of the fierce, and sometimes ridiculous, political fighting going on Capitol Hill in the year of election, which is dominated by economic growth and job creation," Xinhua said.
The commentary particularly singled out Reid, accusing him of campaigning for votes at the expense of China. "I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves," Reid said. "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." The commentary responded by saying, "what is so astounding is that those kind of irresponsible words were spoken out by such a senior political leader".