Irish Gymnast Debunks Olympic ‘Anti-Sex’ Cardboard Bed Theory

sex bed
AP Photo Jae C. Hong

Rhys McClenaghan, an Irish Olympic gymnast, debunked the internet-fueled theory that athletes would be sleeping on cardboard beds that easily break under pressure to discourage sexual activity.

Athletes from all over the world are making their way to Japan for the 2021 Olympics and starting to settle in the Olympic Village. However, some media outlets have reported that the cardboard bed frames the athletes are expected to sleep in are meant to collapse in the event of partaking in sexual activities.

However, McClenaghan debunked the theory in a tweeted video, where he jumped up and down on the bed, calling it “anti-sex fake news.”

“In today’s episode of fake news at the Olympic games, the beds are meant to be anti-sex. They’re made out of cardboard, yes,” he explained. “But, apparently, they’re meant to break at any sudden movements. It’s fake. Fake news.”


The official Twitter account for the Olympics “retweeted” McClenaghan to say, “Thanks for debunking the myth.”

The account added, “You heard it first from @TeamIreland gymnast @McClenaghanRhys  – the sustainable cardboard beds are sturdy! #Tokyo2020”

Dezeen magazine reported that there had been 18,000 cardboard beds set up for the athletes. In addition, Dezeen noted that 8,000 of the customizable beds would be repurposed for athletes at the Paralympics.

When athletes get to the Olympic Village, they will get a customized mattress at a fitting center. The Dezeen report added:

The bed frames are made from recycled cardboard, while the modular mattresses are made from polyethylene fibres that the brand says can be recycled an unlimited number of times.

The cardboard bedframes will support a version of Airweave’s modular mattress, which the brand designed to accommodate the wide variety of body types of different athletes.

The mattress is composed of three separate blocks made from springy polyethylene fibres – one to support the head and shoulders, one to support the waist and one to support the legs – which are zipped together in a case.

Dezeen noted that the sleeping equipment was meant to align with the Games’ sustainability plan, to put on a more sustainable event, and be able to “showcase innovative concepts and solutions that will have a legacy after the Games.”

Airweave, the bed frame maker, told Dezeen, “The concept was to make a lightweight, easy-to-assemble mattress and meet the Games’ Sustainability Plan.”

Paul Chelimo, an American distance runner, tweeted last week, “Beds to be installed in Tokyo Olympic Village will be made of cardboard. This is aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes.

“Beds will be able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations beyond sports,” Chelimo added while trying to be funny. “I see no problem for distance runners, even 4 of us can do.”

In a series of tweets, Chelimo continued to joke around, saying, “Those who pee on the bed are at risk here. Once the carton box is wet the bed falls over esp it will suck if its a night before final.” He also said, “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”

The New York Post reported:

They are distributing a cache of condoms to the athletes, as they have at every Olympic Games since 1988. This year, the condom tally is 160,000. Still, that’s a far cry from the 450,000 doled out for the last summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

This year, Olympic officials insist the rubber is for athletes to bring home to spread the message of safe sex.

Last month, the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee told Japan Today, “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.”


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