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“Anti-sex” beds in the Olympic Village? A social media theory will soon be debunked

The participants of the Olympic Games in Tokyo discovered something unusual on the beds in the athletes’ village: They are made of cardboard.

Some have shared pictures on social media of the modular bed frames, which are made by the Japanese company Airweave and are recyclable. According to the organizers, the beds at the games will be made almost entirely from renewable raw materials for the first time.

But at the time of the coronavirus when Olympic organizers, worried about the transmission, are trying to avoid close contact as much as possible, the unusual bed frames have led some to point out that there is another motive.

Paul Chelimo, an American long distance runner, speculates on Twitter that the beds were unable to carry more than one person and “aimed at avoiding intimacy between athletes”. Soon the beds were being labeled “anti-sex” on social media.

Rhys McClenaghan, a gymnast from Ireland, called the claim “fake news”. A Video he posted on Twitter showed him jumping on his bed to demonstrate that it could withstand violent activity. The official Twitter account for the Olympic Games republished Mr. McClenaghan’s video, adding, “Thanks for debunking the myth.”

The plan for the 18,000 beds and mattresses – 8,000 will also be used for the Paralympics from next month – was announced before the pandemic began and social distancing restrictions were put in place – and they’re more sturdy than they look.

“Cardboard beds are actually stronger than those made of wood or steel,” Airweave said in a statement.

The modular mattresses can be customized for athletes of all body types, and the beds can hold up to 440 pounds, enough for even the most imposing Olympians.

But Olympic officials still prefer the athletes in Tokyo to sleep alone and to stay away from each other everywhere else. A safety playbook advises Olympians to “avoid unnecessary physical contact such as hugs, high fives and handshakes”.

To further discourage enjoyment, the sale of alcohol is banned. Condoms that have been distributed at the Seoul Olympics since the 1988 Olympics have been provided to promote safer sex, but only about a third of the record number of 450,000 distributed at the 2016 Rio Games, it is clear that they are intended for athletes who cannot use them until they are back in their home countries.

The restrictions reflect widespread concern about the coronavirus at the start of the Olympics, especially given the highly contagious Delta variant fueling outbreaks across Asia. A rigorous testing regime has shown dozens of positive results this month as more than 18,000 people arrived in Tokyo for the Games.

Over the weekend, officials confirmed the first three cases in the athletes’ village, including an organizer and two competitors. Some athletes have withdrawn from the games for safety reasons, while others, like teenage American tennis star Coco Gauff, have withdrawn after testing positive.

Hikari Hida contributed the coverage from Tokyo.

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