With the inappropriately titled Tokyo 2020 Olympics underway, one frequent topic of conversation is the Olympic Village, that mythical place we non-world-class athletes can only see from the outside. Attention has focused on the cardboard beds in Tokyo, which some claimed to be anti-sex beds. That turned out not to be true, but it points to a greater issue: the Olympic Villages suck. 

ykanazawa1999/Flickr

And not in the good anti-anti-sex way.

It seems as though in every Olympic cycle, there are reports of unsanitary conditions and general misery at the lodging of the elite athletes.

A famous example of this is Sochi, home to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and a recurring nightmare for anyone unfortunate enough to have been there. Sochi was horrifying for athletes, spectators, and journalists covering the games, and oddities were immortalized through #SochiProblems. Would you like some dangerous, mysterious water? Sochi had you covered. 

The best example of life in Olympic Sochi came from an American bobsledder who had to burst through a rather flimsy-looking door Kool-Aid Man style after it got jammed:

Fast forward two years to the 2016 Rio Olympics, and things weren’t much better. The games themselves were shrouded in controversies of corruption and bribery from the Brazilian government, and life in the Olympic Village wasn’t much better. Accommodations smelled like gas, but officials claimed it was completely normal – which is the most on-the-nose version of gaslighting imaginable. The Jamaican team arrived at their rooms to find that they weren’t even finished. An eventual silver medalist in tennis, Juan Martin del Potro, was stuck in an elevator for 40 minutes. This is exactly what you want to have happen before taking on Novak Djokovic! 

These are just a few of the examples out there, but Olympic Villages are the schadenfreude gifts that keep on giving. The problems also speak to a bigger issue at play with Olympic facilities. They are often incredibly costly, constructed in a rushed, half-baked way, and once the games are over, many of these facilities are simply abandoned

But hey, maybe cardboard beds are the worst parts of the Tokyo Olympic Village, and athletes will be able to rest with drinkable water and no smells of gasoline. They’re already participating in the Olympics during a pandemic; they deserve decent lodging at least.

Top Image: Ftaaffe/Wiki Commons

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