Olympic athletes arriving in Tokyo’s Olympic Village have discovered the most unusual piece of furniture in their rooms — cardboard beds.
Some of this year’s competitors have shared images on social media of the white box bed frames, which are made by the Japanese company Airweave and are recyclable, The New York Times reports. Organizers say it is the first time that the beds at the Games will be made almost entirely out of renewable materials, but at what cost?
Organizers of the sporting events are worried about keeping COVID transmission to a minimum, so to discourage close contact as much as possible, the unusual bed frames have led some to suggest there’s an ulterior motive further than just a renewable piece of furniture.
Paul Chelimo, an American distance runner, speculated on Twitter that the beds were only designed to support the weight of just one person and were “aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes.” Soon, the beds were being labeled on social media as “anti-sex.”
Beds to be installed in Tokyo Olympic Village will be made of cardboard, this is aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes— Paul Chelimo🇺🇸🥈🥉 (@Paulchelimo) July 17, 2021
Beds will be able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations beyond sports.
I see no problem for distance runners,even 4 of us can do😂 pic.twitter.com/J45wlxgtSo
At this point I will have to start practicing how to sleep on the floor; cause If my bed collapses and I have no training on sleeping on the floor i’m done😂— Paul Chelimo🇺🇸🥈🥉 (@Paulchelimo) July 17, 2021
More added stress heading into Tokyo!
YOLO pic.twitter.com/pr2eDmslB5— Paul Chelimo🇺🇸🥈🥉 (@Paulchelimo) July 17, 2021
Rhys McClenaghan, a gymnast from Ireland, shared a video on his Twitter saying, “In today’s episode of fake news at the Olympic Games,” then demonstrating himself jumping on his bed to show that it could actually withstand more weight than one person. The official Olympics Twitter account reposted Mr. McClenaghan’s video, adding: “Thanks for debunking the myth.”
Thanks for debunking the myth.😂You heard it first from @TeamIreland gymnast @McClenaghanRhys - the sustainable cardboard beds are sturdy! #Tokyo2020 https://t.co/lsXbQokGVE— Olympics (@Olympics) July 19, 2021
Per The New York Times, the plan for the 18,000 beds and mattresses was announced before the pandemic started and social distancing restrictions were first put in place.
“Cardboard beds are actually stronger than the ones made of wood or steel,” Airweave, the makers of the cardboard beds said in a statement today (July 19). The mattresses have been custom-made to suit athletes of all body types, and the beds can sustain up to 440 pounds.
Though the beds aren’t really made to be anti-sex, alcohol sales are banned and condom distribution will be lessened. Condoms have been distributed since 1988’s Seoul Games. But this year, Olympic officials have made it clear that the condoms are intended for athletes to use only once they’re back in their home countries.
Officials strongly urge the athletes to sleep alone while in Tokyo and keep their distance from each other. A playbook outlining safety measures advises Olympic participants to “avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact such as hugs, high-fives and handshakes.
The restrictions reflect widespread concern about the coronavirus as the Olympics get underway, especially with the highly contagious Delta variant. A strict testing regime has turned up dozens of positive results this month as more than 18,000 people have arrived in Tokyo for the Games.
Over the weekend, officials confirmed the first three cases inside the athletes’ village, including one organizer and two competitors.