The 2012 Summer Olympic Village -- it houses some of the strongest, talented, competitive and poised men and women in the world. Who wouldn't agree that the Olympians staying here are young, healthy, confident, and the true definition of physically attractive? As the organizers of the London Olympics have determined, in such an environment, flirting is inevitable, and some of the athletes go way beyond just flirting with one another.
So, together with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), London organizers have provided a record stock of 150,000 condoms (if you do the math, this equates to about 15 condoms for each of the athletes) to those residing at the Games' Athlete's Village -- an area consisting of 11 residential plots, each made up of 5 to 7 blocks built around communal squares and courtyards, The Village also boasts a "Village Plaza," with shops, restaurants, medical facilities, nightclubs and large areas of open space where the athletes can meet with each other, friends and family.
Yet, the distribution of free condoms at the Olympics is not a new concept. It began at the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 2000, Sydney organizers allowed for 70,000 condoms to be doled out but ended up needing to distribute about 20,000 more! During the Beijing Summer Olympics, 100,000 condoms were ordered that contained the Olympic motto: "Faster, higher, stronger."
What you may not know is that the IOC agrees to provide these condoms as part of it's commitment to promoting AIDS awareness and prevention. In fact, back in 2004, the IOC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) where the committee agreed to use its leverage to help combat HIV/AIDS. Believing that "the world of sport is not separate from the rest of the world," IOC President Jacques Rogge says, "Sport breaks down barriers, builds self-esteem, and can teach life skills and healthy behaviour. Athletes can be an inspiration and role."
As part of this pledge, the IOC created a Toolkit for the Sports Community -- it is passed out to coaches and other sports administrators as a guide to help them share information about HIV and AIDS to athletes. The motivation behind this toolkit is that,
"Prevention and fighting against discrimination are two fields in which sport can clearly make a difference. ...And sports events offer a perfect platform to make young people aware of the issue, to promote preventive messages, and to ensure that persons living with HIV are not discriminated against. Discrimination towards a country, or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender, or otherwise, is incompatible with the principles of the Olympic Movement."
The IOC also strongly encourages any Olympic athlete that has HIV or AIDS to make this information public; hoping that by doing so, some of the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS will be stopped. This commitment by the IOC is an outstanding example of how an influential organization can positively impact people by giving them tools to protect themselves against HIV and AIDS. So, even though passing out these condoms may help prevent some of our enamored Olympic athletes from creating future Olympians together, the rationale behind the condom distribution speaks to an even greater and noble goal.
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Olympic Condoms Photo © 2012 Dawn Stacey