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The cardboard beds at the Olympics aren't meant to prevent sex — here's the truth

Over the weekend, a U.S. track and field team member started the rumor that the cardboard bed frames are too weak to support sex.
Recyclable cardboard bed frames are one of the ways the Olympics planning committee are making this year's games more sustainable.
Recyclable cardboard bed frames are one of the ways the Olympics planning committee are making this year's games more sustainable.Jae C. Hong / AP
/ Source: TODAY

After a long day of training for the biggest sporting event in the world, you'd expect that Olympic athletes would catch some Zs in an ultra plush, fancy bed. But the Olympics planning committee had something different in mind for this month's Tokyo games.

Over the past few days, photos of the first cardboard beds in the Olympic Village have been circulating on social media, leading many people to utter a collective, "What the heck?" But a recent, corroborated tweet sheds some light on these somewhat unexpected accommodations.

Athletes are sleeping on cardboard bed frames during the Tokyo Olympics.The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images

On Friday, U.S. track and field athlete Paul Chelimo tweeted about the beds, suggesting that they were “aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes.”

“Beds will be able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations beyond sports,” he wrote.

Some athletes and social media users also suggested that the cardboard bed frames might have something to do with preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The cardboard bed frames do indeed have normal mattresses on top.The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images

Alas, they were all wrong. In reality, the cardboard frames are an exercise in sustainability.

Back in January 2020, Olympics organizers told the Associated Press that they were planning to create cardboard beds so that they could be recycled into paper products after the games were over.

And despite being made of cardboard, the beds aren't flimsy. They can support 440 pounds, Takashi Kitajima, the general manager of the Athletes Village, told AP at the time, insisting they would be "stronger than wooden beds.”

In addition, each mattress, not made of cardboard, will be recycled into plastic products.

The cardboard beds are actually pretty supportive.Eugene Hoshiko / AP

On Saturday, Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan dispelled the rumors that the design of the beds is meant to prevent sex by posting a video of himself jumping up and down on top of the cardboard frame to prove just how strong it really is.

"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, but apparently they're meant to break at any sudden movements. It's fake, fake news," he said in the short clip.

McClenaghan's post caught the attention of the official Olympics twitter account, which seemed pretty happy with it.

"Thanks for debunking the myth.😂You heard it first from @TeamIreland gymnast @McClenaghanRhys - the sustainable cardboard beds are sturdy!" the account wrote.

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