The U.S. Olympic Committee said Friday that the uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be made in the United States.
The news came after it was revealed that American athletes at this year's games are going to be wearing clothing manufactured in China -- a fact that sparked outrage from some lawmakers and human rights activists.
Ralph Lauren and the USOC were bombarded on Facebook and Twitter by critics who demanded the fashion design company manufacture new uniforms 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," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.
"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," he said.
"In the meantime, we ask for the American people's support. The members of Team USA have dedicated their entire lives to training for this one moment. They are some of the finest men and women this country has to offer and they are prepared to succeed both on and off the field of play in London. Our country should be proud of the individual athletes that will represent them in London and I'm hopeful that everyone will rally around Team USA," Blackmun said.
Ralph Lauren similarly released a statement Friday, confirming it would manufacture uniforms domestically for the 2014 games.
"For more than 45 years Ralph Lauren has built a brand that embodies the best of American quality and design rooted in the rich heritage of our country," it said, promising to "lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States."
Previously, the USOC had defended the uniforms. In a statement Thursday, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said that "unlike most Olympic teams around the world, the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded and we're grateful for the support of our sponsors." He described the criticism as nonsense in a tweet.
In testimony before Congress last year, the American Apparel and Footwear Association said that 98% of all apparel and 99% of all footwear sold in the United States are manufactured abroad.
According to the Labor Department, 10 years ago, there were more than 350,000 Americans employed by apparel manufacturers. Last month, that number was 147,300.
Dara Torres, a former American Olympic swimmer who won 12 medals in a span of 20 years, said the uniforms looked great but would be even better if they were produced domestically.
"Wearing the U.S. uniform, going out there to represent the United States, it would be nice if it was actually made in the United States," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters Thursday that "the 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," he said.
"If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that's what they should wear."
Actress and human rights advocate Mia Farrow took to Twitter to call on the designer to explain its actions: "please will you tell us why the US Olympic uniforms are made in China? Why not made in the USA?"
Farrow, known for her advocacy on behalf of children, also called on the designer to heed Reid's call. "Burn them & start all over. How bout it?" she tweeted.
At least one current Olympic athlete also raised questions about the uniforms.
"Our Ralph Lauren outfits for the Olympic opening ceremonies were made in China. So, um, thanks China," tweeted distance runner Nick Symmonds, who represents the best hope for the United States to medal in the men's 800-meters since the 1992 Games in Barcelona.