Durban - Critics compared it to Ninja Turtle-wear and now MPs have weighed in, tearing a strip off the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) for its Rio Olympics tracksuits.
The portfolio committee on Sport and Recreation in Parliament said it was unhappy with the explanation given by Sascoc on its procurement of the tracksuits.
“The committee is not satisfied with the explanation given by Sascoc and the Department of Sport and Recreation regarding 361º, the company from China that sponsored clothing for Team South Africa for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.”
Committee chairwoman, Beauty Dlulane, said last week that the complaints by Olympic athletes should be taken seriously and the department and Sascoc should ask 361º to “provide clothing that is of good quality and cut for athletes”.
According to minutes of the meeting, MP Solly Malatsi said there was an issue with the sizing of the tracksuit and asked if the contract had been for apparel only.
Sascoc president, Gideon Sam, and the director-general for the department, Alec Moemi, answering questions from the committee, said the Chinese company only supplied clothing.
Sam pointed out that for the 2004 Beijing Games no sponsors came forward to sponsor tracksuits for the team.
According to minutes of the meeting, he said Sascoc had to beg Puma, “who had only come on board at the last minute”.
Sam said 361º would provide clothing until the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Moemi said they chose the Chinese company because no South African company had come forward or met their expectations.
Moemi, according to the minutes, also said: “Irrespective of how the tracksuits turned out, they were recognised as favourites at the Olympics by many international sport magazines and channels such as Fox Sports, Huffington Post, and the like, when measured against those of other countries with sponsorship from Armani, Stella McCartney and other famous names.”
The Daily News reported in August that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had tweeted: “No swag for team SA at the Olympics.”
He said the loose-fitting tracksuits failed to show off the athletes’ “six packs”.