There was (is?) a big fuss over Ralph Lauren making the U.S. Olympic team‘s gear in China, but at least he didn’t do anything illegal when he outsourced labor overseas. What the Egyptian Olympic committee is doing, however, is very illegal: they’re dressing their athletes in counterfeit Nike gear.
And not only are they doing it, they’re being totally open and unapologetic about it, according to The Canadian Press. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed Ali, the committe chairman, told the AP in a phone interview that they “signed with a Chinese distributor in light of Egypt’s economic situation.” The economic situation that Ali is referring to is, of course, the decimation of Egypt’s tourism industry and a mass exodus of investors following the country’s recent political revolution, but what he said is still a euphemism for, “We can’t afford the real thing, but want to look cool so we’re buying knockoffs.”
Nike, who is rightfully very upset by the situation, has already responded, saying this in an emailed statement issued on Wednesday:
“Nike is highly concerned that if these allegations are true, the athletes will have received products that do not meet Nike’s quality standards. We are now in discussions with them to see if a solution can be reached.”
Even the athletes themselves are complaining about it. Yomna Khallaf, a synchronized swimmer, tweeted:
“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.”
That’s the equivalent of about $330 USD. Khallaf also said that the team’s bags have Nike logos but zippers that say “Adidas”. That’s right, they’re not even good knockoffs. Ali tried to rationalize the decision, saying:
“This costs a lot of money, especially in light of the team being 112 players. Plus we have the coaches, management and doctors going.”
That is perfectly understandable; outfitting an entire Olympic team is a huge expense, particularly for a country that has been experiencing political unrest. But if they’re going to come out and tell the whole world that the gear is fake, wouldn’t it be better to buy something that isn’t a knockoff at all? Leave your thoughts about it in the comment box below!