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Paris caters for Olympic romance by distributing 220,000 free condoms to athletes


Organisers of the Paris Olympics are to distribute 220,000 condoms to athletes who want to get romantic during this year’s Games in the City of Love.

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Although they might be focused on sport, competitors will be free to indulge in sex if they wish – unlike during the last Covid-hit Olympics in Tokyo when they were urged to “avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact”.

Around 200,000 condoms for men and 20,000 for women will be made available at the athletes’ village during the Games from July 26-August 11, said Laurent Dalard, in charge of first aid and health services at Paris 2024.

“We don’t know how many people are likely to use them and obviously we’ll adapt to the requirements if needed,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

A few thousand condoms were first distributed for free to athletes at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 to encourage safe sex and raise awareness about the HIV-AIDS epidemic sweeping the world at the time.

Since then, it has become a tradition for each event, stoking the idea of the village as a hotbed of high-performance promiscuity.

A staff member carrying condoms at the Rio Olympics in 2016 which set a record for free contraceptives.
A staff member carrying condoms at the Rio Olympics in 2016 which set a record for free contraceptives. © Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP

The number of condoms distributed has increased dramatically over the decades, rising to 50,000 at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, 100,000 in Beijing in 2008, and 150,000 in London in 2012.

The Rio Games in 2016 were dubbed the raunchiest yet, with a massive 450,000 handed out, the equivalent of 42 for each athlete.

Dalard said that sexually trasmitted diseases were rising in France and that fliers and posters in the village would seek to educate athletes about the dangers, as well as the issue of consent.

Surge in STDs

The European Union’s health agency warned on March 7 about a “troubling” surge in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) across the continent over the previous year.

In 2022, gonorrhoea cases in the EU rose by 48 percent, syphilis was up 34 and chlamydia 16 percent, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The beds at the Paris Games might also be a passion killer, given that they are all singles, made of cardboard, and are usually two to a room.

The Olympic village in a northern suburb of the French capital will house around 14,000 people over the course of the Olympics, and another 9,000 during the Paralympics afterwards.

The site will include the usual catering area for athletes, serving food 24 hours a day, as well as a sports bar and games areas.

No alcohol will be served, however.

“It’s not a place for parties,” Laurent Michaud, director of village operations for the organising committee, told reporters on a recent tour of the village. “If they want to party, they can go into Paris.”

One senior Paris organiser poured cold water on some of the fantasies around the village, telling AFP recently that he expected most of the condoms to be taken home as souvenirs or freebies.


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