The Olympic Village is using bed frames made out of impact-resistant cardboard for the 2020 Olympics. These beds were designed in an effort to make the Olympics more green, not to prevent athletes from having sex. These beds are durable and can easily hold the weight of two average-sized people.
In July 2021, as the 2020 Olympics approached (the games were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic), a rumor started circulating on social media that the athletes would be sleeping on “anti-sex” beds in the Olympic Village:
However, these are not anti-sex beds; they can easily support the weight of two average-sized people, and they do not break with any sudden movement. The meme does correctly state that these beds are made of cardboard and that they will be recycled after the games.
The Olympic Village has a reputation (although possibly an unfair one) for being a hotbed of sexual activities. In 2016, the Guardian reported that nearly a half million condoms were provided to the athletes during the summer games in Rio de Janeiro.
Seventeen days, 10,500 athletes, 33 venues, and 450,000 condoms. That’s how many camisinhas (little shirts in Brazilian slang) are being supplied by the International Olympics Committee for the 2016 Rio Summer Games. Forty-two per athlete, to be specific, which, even by Olympic standards, is a hell of a lot…
“It is an absolutely huge allocation of condoms,” admits Olympic rowing gold and silver medallist Zac Purchase, who retired from rowing in 2014 and competed in London and Beijing. “But it is all so far from the truth of what it’s like to be in there. It’s not some sexualised cauldron of activity. We’re talking about athletes who are focused on producing the best performance of their lives.”
With the Olympic Village’s reputation for promiscuity, and with various “social distancing” measures being enacted due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, many social media users assumed that the cardboard beds were some sort of anti-sex measure. But that’s not the case. These beds were designed to be more green, not to prevent sex.
Rhys Mcclenaghan, an Irish gymnast competing at the 2020 Games, posted a video on Twitter debunking the notion that the beds would break with “any sudden movement.”
“Anti-sex” beds at the Olympics pic.twitter.com/2jnFm6mKcB
— Rhys Mcclenaghan (@McClenaghanRhys) July 18, 2021
Long before rumors started circulating that these were “anti-sex” beds, the cardboard beds were touted as one of the ways Tokyo was attempting to make the Olympics more environmentally friendly. A news release from 2019 published on the Olympics news site “Inside the Games” detailed the specs and purpose of these cardboard beds. The bedding company Airweave said that it was providing 18,000 beds to the Olympic Village that were made from “high resistance lightweight cardboard.” The company said that the beds can hold more than 440 pounds, and that after the games the beds would be recycled.
Tokyo 2020 has revealed the beds athletes will sleep in at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. In all, 18,000 beds will be required at the Olympic Village, with 8,000 at the Paralympic Village. They will be provided by Airweave, an official Tokyo 2020 partner company, and include blue and white duvets featuring a square pattern and the Games logos.
“The design of the mattress leverages the latest innovations in bed surface technology,” Tokyo 2020 said today. “It comprises three distinct sections supporting the upper, middle and lower body, and the hardness of each section can be customised to suit each athlete’s body shape. The pillows have an indentation in the centre, providing good support for the neck and head regardless of whether athletes are sleeping on their backs or sides.
“All of the bed frames will be made from high-resistance cardboard, able to support weights of up to 200 kilograms. They will be recycled into paper products after the Games, with the mattress components recycled into new plastic products. This will be the first time in Olympic and Paralympic history that all beds and bedding are made almost entirely from renewable materials.”
In sum, Olympic athletes will indeed be sleeping on cardboard beds during the 2020 games. These beds were designed to make the games more sustainable, not to prevent athletes from having sex.