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De-Bunking the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Anti-Sex Beds Myth

The buzz surrounding the cardboard beds at the 2020 Olympics, how it started, and the reality of why the beds are made of cardboard (not anti-sex, but rather a sustainability measure)

Syced/Wikimedia Commons

Ever wondered what the athletes at the Olympics do after their events? One popular answer seems to be each other.

A common saying during the Games among athletes is “what happens in the village stays in the village”. During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the International Olympic Committee distributed enough condoms so that there would be roughly 42 per athlete, or 350,000. However, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games just around the corner, it appeared that the International Olympic Committee would be taking a different approach to intimacy between athletes. In a July 16 tweet, American runner Paul Belimo made claims that this cardboard-constructed twin-sized beds were made to prevent intimacy between the athletes due to COVID concerns.

As one could imagine, social media had a field day with this. Almost immediately memes, tweets, and TikToks came out deriding the bed, making it a viral sensation. Jokes made at the beds’ expense ranged from “they’re acting like the floor doesn’t exist” (@godcomplexz) to other Olympic athletes even joined in, like American marathon runner Molly Seidel tweeting out “The official pickup line of Tokyo 2020: “Hey, wanna break down some cardboard with me?” Other athletes, like Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, demonstrated the sturdiness of the bed by jumping on it in this video. The beds were made to withstand up to 441 pounds, which is nearly double the weight of the average American man.

However, despite all the hilarity surround the beds, the intended purpose of these beds was not necessarily to discourage intimacy among the athletes. These 100% carboard constructed bedframes were actually intended to promote sustainability, according to Inside the Games. Along with the frame being constructed from carboard, a Japanese bedding company AirWeave constructed the mattresses to be entirely made of recycled polyethylene, a common form of plastic.

Make no mistake, other efforts are being made to discourage intimate encounters during the Games amid COVID concerns. Unlike the 2016 Rio Games, only 150,000 condoms will be distributed but “not to use in the village” said Takashi Kitajima, a 2020 Tokyo Olympic organizer in charge of the Athlete’s village during a press conference. Rather the organizers want them to be viewed as a “parting gift” to bring back to their home countries in order to demonstrate the importance of safety and contraceptive methods during sex.  

If you want to read more 2020 Olympics buzz, check out the controversy surrounding the ban on swim caps for natural hair.

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