Cardboard beds for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village. ( JIJI PRESS / STR)

Tokyo Olympic cardboard beds were not designed to discourage sex

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

Multiple posts on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok claim cardboard beds at the Olympic village in Tokyo are “anti-sex beds” designed to discourage intimacy and promote social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. The claim is misleading: Tokyo 2020 organisers -- who showcased the design months before the onset of the pandemic -- said they designed the beds to minimise waste at competitions. After the misleading claim circulated, an Irish athlete posted a video of himself jumping repeatedly on one of the beds without it breaking.

The misleading claim was published in a blog in the Philippines on July 19, 2021.

The post suggests the cardboard beds cannot withstand the weight of more than one person.

A similar claim went viral in Asia, Africa, and the US. It was shared in multiple social media posts on Twitter here and here; on Facebook here, here and here; and on TikTok here.

In Asia alone, it was shared in Indonesian, Thai, Korean and Bengali-language posts.

It was also shared by athletes online.

Australian basketball player Andrew Bogut tweeted: "Great gesture...until the athletes finish their said events and the 1000's of condoms handed out all over the village are put to use."

Distance runner Paul Chelimo said the beds were "aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes".

The claim is misleading.

Before the onset of the pandemic, manufacturer Airweave told AFP in January 2020 the beds were sturdy enough to withstand a weight of 200 kilos (440 pounds) and have been through rigorous stress tests.

Organisers reiterated on July 19 the cardboard beds were "sturdy" after claims they were not strong enough to hold the weight of more than one person.

After the misleading claim circulated online in July 2021, Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan filmed himself jumping repeatedly on a bed to debunk claims the beds were designed to discourage sex.

"The beds are meant to be anti-sex. They're made out of cardboard, yes, but apparently they're meant to break with sudden movements. It's fake — fake news!" McClenaghan said in the video posted on Twitter.

Olympic organisers originally unveiled the bed's design in September 2019, months before the first case of Covid-19 was recorded.

The beds were designed to show Tokyo 2020's commitment towards sustainability, organisers said.

Thousands of athletes will stay at the Olympic Village during the pandemic-delayed 2020 Tokyo Games, which are set to start on Friday.