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Kelsey Sena Tamakloe
By Kelsey Sena Tamakloe July 19, 2021

Here’s why the Olympics gave athletes cardboard beds

If Your Time is short

  • Olympic Village is furnished with beds designed out of cardboard.

  • The beds are not "anti-sex" beds. Their purpose is not to prevent the spread of COVID; they were made before the pandemic as renewable material.

  • The beds hold up to about 400 pounds and do not break with sudden movement. 

A tweet claimed that the Olympics in Tokyo are using anti-sex beds in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the games. 

"This is the craziest story," said a July 17 tweet. "In order to prevent Olympians from having sex, and thus risk spreading the Covid virus, beds at the Tokyo Olympic Village are made from cardboard so they collapse if more than one person gets on them!"

The tweet included an image of two neatly made single beds, each covered in a blue and white bedspread that reads "Tokyo 2020." The legs and frame of the bed are made of cardboard  

The post, which was also shared on Facebook, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its news feed. (Read more about PolitiFact’s partnership with Facebook.)

The beds were not created to prevent the spread of the virus. They were made by Airweave, a Japanese company. In 2019, long before COVID-19 was even a word, the company announced its plan to supply 18,000 beds for the Olympics and 8,000 beds for the Paralympics. 

The beds are meant to be moveable and recyclable. The bed frames are made out of high-resistance cardboard and a customizable mattress. The beds’ lightness helps athletes rearrange their rooms easier. And once the games are over, the beds and mattresses will be recycled into other paper and plastic products. 

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Even though the beds look breakable, they can withstand a lot of physical activity. "Fake news!" said Rhys McClenaghan, an Olympic gymnast from Ireland, in response to the fast-moving social media claim. In his video tweet, he is seen forcefully jumping up and down his cardboard bed — without it breaking.

"Cardboard beds are actually stronger than the one made of wood or steel," Airweave told the New York Times. The beds are built to hold up to 200 to 440 pounds. 

As far as social distancing goes, the International Olympic Committee has asked athletes to minimize physical interaction, keep two meters of distance from other athletes, and practice good hygiene. Athletes are expected to be tested for COVID-19 before, during and after the games.

This year, the Olypmics distributed 160,000 condoms; officials said that the condoms were used for educational purposes to promote safe sex. "Our intent and goal is not for athletes to use the condoms at the Olympic Village, but to help with awareness by taking them back to their own countries." said the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee in a statement

Our ruling

The post stated that the beds used in the Olympics are meant to prevent sex between athletes and minimize the spread COVID-19; they are not. 

The bed plans were put into motion before the pandemic because they can be recycled.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Tweet, July 17, 2021

Tweet, July 17, 2021

Facebook post. July 19, 2021

Kyodo, News, Olympics: Recyclable cardboard bed, customizable mattress for 2020 athletes, Sep 25, 2019

New York Times, ‘Anti-Sex’ Beds in the Olympic Village? A Social Media Theory is Soon Debunked, July 19, 2021

Japan Today, Please take Tokyo Olympics condoms back to your home country and use them there, organizer say, June 2, 2021

International Olympic Committee, The Playbook International Federations, accessed July 19, 2021

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Here’s why the Olympics gave athletes cardboard beds

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