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Every time the Summer or Winter Olympics roll around, there’s a certain topic that people inevitably talk about: the shocking amount of sex going on in the Olympic Village. It’s common knowledge that the Olympics organizers distribute thousands of free condoms to the athletes during their stay, but why and how did this start?
In short, it started with a campaign to promote public health. Keep reading as our Rapid STD Testing team spills the tea on details about the history of free condoms at the Olympics and the notorious promiscuity of some Olympians during the games.
At Rapid STD Testing, we offer easily accessible resources like the 10-Panel STD test to stay on top of your sexual health.
Why Do They Give Out Condoms at the Olympics?
Although the Olympic Games date to 776 B.C., the modern Olympics traditions began in 1896 in Athens, Greece.
However, the notorious allocation of condoms didn’t start until 1988 during the Calgary Winter Olympics in Canada. At this time, the HIV/AIDS epidemic had been devastating the world since 1981. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections were on the rise, and world governments reported 59,229 AIDS cases to the World Health Organization in 1988 alone.
Most were sexually transmitted. HIV spreads through bodily fluids, such as blood or semen, during sexual activity. The barrier that condoms provide between sexual partners makes them highly effective in preventing HIV infections.
The Reasoning Behind the Condoms at the Olympics
Perhaps knowing of the likely levels of sexual activity among Olympic athletes, public health professionals urged the International Olympics Committee to distribute free condoms at the Olympic Village in Calgary. The idea was to promote safe sex and reduce the risk of HIV infections in the face of the epidemic.
The organizers stocked the Village’s pharmacy with condoms, giving them out to any of the elite sports people that asked for them. The HIV/AIDS prevention initiative continued later that year at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics in Korea. Initially, the organizers wanted to test all athletes for HIV but settled on giving out 6,000 condoms within the Village.
Every Olympics event since then has continued distribution of complimentary condoms. The 1992 Winter Olympics organizers in France gave athletes condoms matching the colors of the Olympic rings, while the Barcelona Summer Olympics Village had a condom dispenser.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is still going, though not at the levels seen in the 1980s and 1990s. The distribution of free condoms to promote safe sex continues.
It’s important to use condoms correctly for the best protection, so our team at Rapid STD Testing created a condom guide for safe sex.
Why and How Athletes Hook Up
With so many young, fit individuals crowded together in one place, it’s not hard to believe the rumors about athletes hooking up. American swimmer Ryan Lochte estimated in an interview that 70 to 75% of Olympians have sex during their stay in the Olympic Village. Another athlete, a male javelin thrower, admitted to hooking up with three different women every day.
It’s undeniable that tensions are high during the Olympics. When they’re not vying for gold medals, the Olympians take advantage of the giant melting pot that is the Olympic Village, looking for like-minded partners with whom to burn off the adrenaline rush of competing. With the rise of dating apps, athletes are able to widen their search even further.
During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a spokesperson for the dating app Tinder said that matches increased by 129% in the Olympic Village. At the time, competitors were swiping through profiles of their fellow top athletes with descriptions like “Looking for fun in Rio!”
Why Do Olympians Get Condoms During COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about some head-scratching rule changes for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in Japan. The organizers still gave the athletes 160,000 free condoms, but they also warned them to avoid physical interactions, like handshakes and high-fives, to avoid spreading COVID-19.
They told the athletes to take the condoms home as souvenirs instead of using them during the games. Breaking these rules could mean fines, disqualification, or revoked medals. Each room in the Tokyo Olympic Village only had a single cardboard bed, presumably to discourage hookups and encourage “social distancing.”
At the 2022 Beijing Olympics in China, organizers continued to advise athletes to avoid physical contact with others but, again, still provided free condoms to those staying within the Village.
How Many Condoms Are Used at the Olympics?
While the 1988 Winter Olympics started with a humble 6,000 condoms, the standard now seems to be a minimum of 100,000 condoms for every Olympics event. The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics holds an all-time high at 450,000 condoms, including 100,000 female condoms. With thousands of athletes (11,238, to be exact) competing that year, that would be enough to supply 40 condoms per athlete!
In past Olympics, the organizers underestimated the athletes’ stamina. The organizers of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, ordered 50,000 condoms but had to order 20,000 more because they ran out too quickly. Having learned their lesson, the 2004 Athens Olympics had manufacturers like Durex provide 130,000 condoms at the Olympics with 30,000 packets of lubricant.
Condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Rapid STD Testing offers same-day STD testing whether you’re a world-renowned Olympic athlete or not.
Before You Let the Games Begin, Get Tested
Rapid STD Testing offers private STD tests that you can order online or take in a test center in a nearby city. You can get your results within one to two days, making sure that you know your status as quickly as possible. To protect yourself and your partners before having sex, find a lab near you to take a rapid STD test.