In Romney-helmed games, Olympic uniforms outsourced to Burma
(CBS News) Last Friday, amid uproar over news that this year's U.S. Olympic opening ceremony uniforms were made in China, Mitt Romney remained noticeably mum on the issue.
Asked by CBS News' Jan Crawford if the U.S. Olympics team uniforms should be made in America, Romney, who was the president and CEO of the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002, declined to weigh in.
"I don't know the particulars of the circumstance so I really can't comment on that," Romney told Crawford. "I presume they have sponsors who are associated with uniforms and matters of that nature so I'm not going to weigh in to the decision."
(Watch Crawford's interview with Romney in the video to the left.)
That the 2012 uniforms were not made in the U.S. is not without precedent: Ralph Lauren, which has made the Olympic uniforms for three games running (and is also set to make them in 2014), outsourced production of the uniforms in 2008 and 2010 as well, according to the New York Times.
And in 2002, when Romney was at the helm of the Salt Lake City Olympics, the outfits were produced in Burma, as the Huffington Post pointed out last night.Romney on Olympics uniforms made in China: No comment
What was Romney's role at Bain during outsourcing?
This fact was a source of some protest in 2002, particularly given the Burmese government's history of dictatorship and long track record of human rights violations. A 2002 story from the Los Angeles Times reported on groups protesting the uniforms, made by Marker Outerwear, "because of the uniform maker's alleged ties to inhumane working conditions in Myanmar."
In a Sunday story, the Guardian UK quoted Susan Bonfield, a torch carrier for the 2002 games, remembering her outrage at seeing the 2002 uniform labels. (The Daily Kos, a liberal website, posted a picture of what appears to be the uniform and its label, which reads "Made in Burma (Myanmar)".)
"When I looked at the label for the uniform, I went nuts. When you are sending work representing the US to a military dictatorship, I have an issue with that," she told the Guardian.
The decade-old controversy has particular resonance at the moment, not only because of the kerfuffle over the 2012 uniforms, but also due to questions surrounding Romney's history at Bain Capital and whether or not he was involved with controversial company decisions, some of which resulted in outsourced labor.
The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
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