Like every Olympics, London 2012 is sure to be remembered for the magical moments when world records are shattered. Even before the games start, though, one unusual Olympic record has already been trounced: Event organizers are prepared to award athletes with the highest-ever number of free condoms.
There’s no getting around the fact that going to the Olympics is expensive—particularly when they’re hosted by an especially popular, beloved, accessible city like London. During the games this summer, packages with airfare, lodging, and tickets costs around $10,000 per person for Americans, a mid-range hotel runs roughly $475 per night, and a water taxi on the Thames may cost upwards of $23,000.
That’s not to say that certain things aren’t being given away for free during the London 2012 Games. The BBC reported that some 400,000 staff and volunteers are being outfitted head to toe in Adidas London 2012 gear. In lieu of payment for volunteers, they receive a schwag bag that includes “two polo shirts, two pairs of trousers, two pairs of socks, one jacket and one pair of trainers”—with “trainers” being British slang for shoes or sneakers. But that’s not all. “The kit includes a baseball cap, official Games time bag, water bottle, notepad, umbrella ‘just in case it rains’ and socks.” In addition to Adidas, Swatch is another major sponsor, and each volunteer will wear (and get to keep) a red “Game Maker” Swatch watch.
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The athletes competing in the games enjoy a different set of freebies. First off, there’s room and board. The Telegraph explained that,” The 2,800 apartments have been provided with 16,000 beds, 9,000 wardrobes and 11,000 sofas, all built by a 40-strong team working full-time assembling flat-pack furniture,” and that, “all rooms are twins, with two-metre by one-metre single beds, with 40cm extensions available for extra-tall athletes.” Rooms don’t have kitchens, but free Wi-Fi and free TV are standard. The village housing athletes comes, unsurprisingly, with a state-of-the-art gym, as well as an “anti-doping facility.”
The village also hosts a Religious Services Centre, where the Bible Society plans on handing out thousands of “commemorative English-language Scriptures,” according to Christianity Today. Roughly 3,000 special English-languish editions—The Sports Good News Bible and The Sports Good News Gospel of Luke—will be given out, and another 1,000 copies will be available in other languages. The special texts include “specially commissioned articles written to help sportspeople consider the relationships between sport and faith.”
The amount of free condoms being distributed at the games will far outnumber the Bible, however. On the behalf of all England, the Daily Mail boasted that London 2012 could be “the raunchiest games ever,” given the record-high 150,000 condoms being handed out—15 per competitor.
By comparison, roughly 100,000 condoms were handed out at the previous Olympics, in 2008 in Beijing. The rise in condom distribution dates back to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, when event organizers quickly ran out of the 70,000 complimentary condoms on hand.
Given the record-setting condom giveaway, London 2012 organizers clearly expect a festive 17 days of games. Perhaps even the world’s greatest athletes aren’t up to the challenge of 15 condoms apiece, however. After the Beijing games, some 5,000 leftover (unused) condoms had to be auctioned off, starting at 15¢ apiece. And in the Beijing games, you’ll recall, there were 50,000 fewer free condoms in the stockpile.