Polo rides to rescue for U.S. Olympic team

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polo_olympics_blog1.jpgUpdated | 7:33 p.m. The U.S. Olympic team is going preppy.

Ralph Lauren Polo announced today an agreement to outfit the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams with new threads for the opening and closing ceremonies, along with walking around clothes for their down time in the Olympic Village, during the 2008 Summer Olympics, which open Aug. 8.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story earlier today and provided one of the only glimpses of the new outfits, which won’t be publicly unveiled until the Opening Ceremonies.

But never one to miss a marketing moment, the gay-popular brand will stock the shelves of its retail outlets with apparel from the line in June. The items for public consumption will include the official men’s Parade Outfit tie, something better suited for the office and not the neighborhood gay bar where you might catch the Olympics on TV.

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Gone will be the sporty outfits of the American team, like the retro ski jackets worn by speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno (photo) and other team members during the opening parade at the Winter Olympics in 2006.

Replacing it will be the upscale style of Polo – V-neck tennis sweaters and ties, classic Polo mesh shirts with “Beijing” written in big Chinese characters across the front and cargo pants. A sketch of the village wear released today includes a white v-neck, knee-length shorts and a long-sleeve open collar shirt. Think upscale summer, stand-and-pose bar look.

The outfits will be bathed in red, white and blue with an Olympic logo that may include a replica of a crest with stars and stripes used by the 1932 U.S. Olympic team at the Los Angeles Games. Ponies of varying sizes will also be used on the garments. The USOC’s chief operating officer, Norman Bellingham, was inspired by “Chariots of Fire,” the 1981 movie about British athletes in the 1924 Summer Olympics.

“We have to put America on a world stage that looks refined and appropriate,” says David Lauren. “Right now our job is just to work on making America look great. That’s our mission.”

The USOC dumped Roots, which outfitted the U.S. team for the past three Olympics, in January not long after the company unveiled a “yoga-inspired, technical, green product” for athletes to wear this summer. No kidding? Company officials snipped that the USOC “wanted blazers and slacks, a more formal look.”

It’s tough, though, to see how the sketch and the details provided in the article will translate into an Olympic clothing line that showcases the beautiful physiques that make watching the sporting event so much fun. With the unitard LZR Racer swimsuits from Speedo also on tap, this is another hint that the Summer Games may be the least revealing in recent memory.

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