You’d think that world-class athletes would command world-class accommodations. But depending on who you ask, that’s not exactly the case in the Olympic Village.
When it comes to where athletes in Tokyo put their heads at night, the focus has been more on sustainability than luxury. Instead of Sleep Number beds and Egyptian cotton sheets, the Olympians are – wait a minute – cardboard beds with polyethylene mattresses.
In addition to mattresses, the Japanese bedding company Airweave provides Olympic athletes with 18,000 beds made of “high-strength lightweight cardboard” and 8,000 beds for Paralympists with a slightly different design.
According to a press release from Inside the Games, beds “will be recycled into paper products after the Games, with mattress components being 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 sources Raw materials. “
At the time, Takashi Kitajima, the general manager of the Athletes Village, told the Associated Press that the beds would be cardboard, but not thin and “stronger than wooden beds.” He also extolled their convenience. I have Olympic athletes verify the validity of this claim.
The press release also says the beds can hold up to 441 pounds, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from bubbling over the “real” reason for switching to cardboard beds.
Team USA track and field athlete Paul Chelimo had a particularly interesting take on the mindset behind the beds, tweeting that they “aim at avoiding intimacy between athletes” and “will be able to withstand the weight of a single person, to avoid situations “. beyond sport. “
The beds to be installed in the Tokyo Olympic Village will be made of cardboard to avoid intimacy between athletes
Beds can withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations outside of sports.
I don’t see a problem for long distance runners, even 4 of us can do it😂 pic.twitter.com/J45wlxgtSo
– Paul Chelimo🇺🇸🥈🥉 (@Paulchelimo) July 17, 2021
I would just leave that there, but Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan also took to Twitter to expose Chelimo’s claim that the beds were “anti-intimacy” by jumping on one to prove its sturdiness.
“Anti-Sex” beds at the Olympics pic.twitter.com/2jnFm6mKcB
– Rhys McClenaghan (@McClenaghanRhys) July 18, 2021
So there you have it. The cold, hard truth is that the only purpose the committee called the cardboard is to ensure a sustainable sleep, rather than worrying about what the athletes are doing during their downtime.