Egypt Olympic team admits to fake Nike gear

Competitors from Egypt exit a venue after training ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games on July 23, 2012, at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London, England. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

CAIRO (AP) - The tracksuits and bags of Egypt's Olympic team are emblazoned with the familiar Nike and Adidas logos, and the country's committee chairman says that's good enough - even though they're fakes.

"We signed with a Chinese distributor in light of Egypt's economic situation," Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed Ali told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Ali said the real thing was just too expensive, and the state of Egypt's battered finances led him to opt for the counterfeit gear, which he said was "sufficient."

And what if the sports apparel brands don't like it?

If Nike has a problem with it, then it should deal directly with the Chinese distributor who sold it, Ali said in separate remarks to the state-run Ahram Online.

"Nike is highly concerned that if these allegations are true, the athletes will have received products that do not meet Nike's quality standards," the company said in an emailed statement late Wednesday.

Nike said its authorized distributor in Egypt tried to contact the Egyptian committee weeks ago, to no avail. On Friday, Nike wrote to the Egyptians requesting "immediate action," the company said.

"We are now in discussions with them to see if a solution can be reached," Nike said.

Egypt's athletes have complained.

Synchronized swimmer Yomna Khallaf wrote on Twitter that she spent more than $300 out of pocket to buy better training gear.

"It's so frustrating that we had to pay extra 2000 (Egyptian) pounds to have other proper stuff to wear so that we can look okay not even good," she tweeted.

The bags the Egypt's Olympic Committee gave the athletes have large Nike logos on the front, but the zippers have "Adidas" written on them, said Khallaf, who is among Egypt's 112-strong team competing in London.

A popular uprising followed by 17 months of political unrest have decimated Egypt's tourism industry and driven investors away. The country's foreign currency reserves dropped by more than one-half since the uprising.

Ali said the committee studied several options before deciding to go with the Chinese distributor.

The knockoffs won because the designer sports labels, whose goods can range in price from $300 to $500 per athlete, are not something the committee can afford.

"This costs a lot of money, especially in light of the team being 112 players," Ali said. "Plus we have the coaches, management and doctors going."

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