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Condom distribution at the 2018 Winter Olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea were undoubtedly a success. Some of the most talked about headlines were North Korea, Chole Kim’s Twitter account, Russian Olympic athletes and the Shirtless Tonga Flag Waver. One of the least talked about things was about condoms distribution during the Olympics.

During the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, 2,925 athletes from around 90 countries came together to live in the Olympic Village. At the same time the Winter Olympic officials started to distribute 110,000 condoms donated by the South Korean manufacturer, Convenience, at a total value of $97,370. By doing some basic math it comes down to 37 condoms per athlete. Not only do athletes receive condoms but members of the media and spectators also get condoms too. This is the record for the most condoms given out during any Winter Olympics. 

Winter Olympic officials did not expect for all the condoms to be used over the sixteen days. Officials even expected athletes to take condoms home as souvenirs.   

During the sixteen days of the Winter Olympics, Tinder, a popular dating/hookup app had its  traffic surge more than 300%. With the aid of Tinder these hookups become more common than before.

Tinder first became popular with Olympic athletes during the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. During the 2016 Summer Olympic games, Rio de Janeiro followed the same surge in traffic. With the ease that athletes can find potential hookups, follows the increased risk of athletes spreading and catching STDs.

Interestingly, some athletes were more favored than others. The most frequently picked athletes for males were bobsledders and snowboarders by females. Men frequently picked female athletes who were Alpine skiers and bobsledders.  

This practice of giving out condoms at the Olympics is nothing new. This practice started in Seoul, South Korea at the 1988 Summer Olympics. During the 1980’s the Aid epidemic had just emerged and had accelerated in the mid 1980’s. The World Health Organization recognized the epidemic was getting out of control, so South Korean officials decided to publicly distribute condoms during the 1988 Summer Olympics.

During the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic games 70,000 condoms were distributed. Unfortunately, this was not enough to satisfy everyone as they ran out and 20,000 emergency condoms were ordered.  

During the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics 450,000 condoms were distributed and for the first time female condoms were also distributed. In all, 100,000 female condoms and 350,000 male condoms were distributed.

An added concern about the Zika virus prompted officials to increase the amount condoms distributed. The Zika virus, which can be spread sexually, attacks the nerves causing paralysis and death.

In addition to providing condoms, AIDS organization officials provided free screening for HIV and AIDS and education about condom use.

While the distribution of condoms and the screening of HIV and AIDS is the explicit meaning of the campaign, there is a more subtle message from these officials. The subtle message is using athletes to promote condom use. With every nation focused on the Summer and Winter Olympics, these athletes get huge publicity around the world. Officials recognize this power and it serves as an effective way to educate people about the dangers of unprotected sex. Education is the most effective way to prevent people from getting HIV, AIDS and other STDs.   

While there are many speculations about what goes on in the Olympic Villages across the world, no one knows besides the athletes themselves. As athletes say, “what happens in the village stays in the village.”  

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