Earlier this month, a rumor spread across the internet that officials at the Tokyo Olympics had commissioned cardboard beds to keep competitors from fucking in the after-hours, due to Japan having issued yet another state of emergency concerning the ongoing pandemic. The manufacturer of those beds has finally spoken to say no, the beds were actually commissioned long before the pandemic was a thought in our minds... but the condoms passed out alongside room assignments? Officials would still like everyone to please use them in their own countries.
The New York Times reports that the beds in question—about 18,000 of them, and an additional 8000 for the Paralympics—were announced before the pandemic. This runs contrary to rumors online that they were to prevent competitors from canoodling, a practice as old as the Olympic games (and human civilization).
In a statement, the bed manufacturer Airweave said: “Cardboard beds are actually stronger than the one made of wood or steel.” However, the Times also reports that in a “playbook” handed to athletes, Tokyo Olympics officials say to “avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact.” The sale of alcohol has also been banned, although condoms will still be passed out, a tradition the Times says dates back to 1988. Interestingly though, the Times adds: “Olympic officials have made it clear that they are intended for athletes to use only once they’re back in their home countries.” On a practical level, it makes sense, because there is no power on this Earth strong enough to stop sweaty, endorphin-filled athletes from shaking up in close quarters. But it’s almost like giving someone a $20 bill and asking them not to spend it, and instead frame it on the wall.
In Japan itself, there’s likewise growing unrest over the fact that officials moved forward with the games, despite an immense surge in coronavirus cases, and yet another state of emergency extending through the Olympics to August 22. In June, young people organized a protest of the games, and a May poll in Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun found that 83% of Japanese citizens don’t support the Olympics.
As of Monday, there have also been multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus inside the Olympics village, and on Sunday, teen tennis star Coco Gauff announced via Twitter that she had tested positive for the virus, and therefore wouldn’t be representing the U.S. this year.
Really, steps taken by the organizers to stem the tide of cases in Japan—while still hosting an international pissing contest—feels like plugging up a leaky ship with cheap knock-off band-aids from the local CVS. From the outside looking in, it almost seems like organizers rushed forward with the games despite every warning, having already been burdened a $1.4 billion stadium. Back in the U.S., such haphazard safety precautions in the name of money-making feels all too familiar.
All that said, if you happen to be an Olympian fucking on cardboard beds right now, we’d love to hear from you, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to think the danger makes it all the more exciting, no? As if Olympics officials didn’t already have enough to worry about.