The infamous “anti-sex” cardboard beds Olympians slept on at the athletes village during the Tokyo Games will be reused as beds for COVID-19 patients.
The governor of Osaka, a southern prefecture of Japan, announced Saturday that the beds would be installed at a temporary facility to treat COVID-19 patients by the end of this month. About 800 beds, which governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said were “high quality,” will be transferred.
Made by the Japanese company Airweave, the beds went viral on social media during the recent Olympics for their ostensible “anti-sex” property. Athletes speculated the frames were deliberately designed to keep Olympians from getting intimate amid COVID-19 restrictions, especially as the games are known for hookups aplenty.
But the rumor has since been debunked, including by athletes who tested the beds’ durability themselves. Airweave’s CEO, Motokuni Takaoka, even jumped on the bed himself and said the beds were “okay.” According to Airweave, a single frame is capable of supporting up to 200 kilograms (441 pounds).
Its cardboard material was chosen with recyclability in mind. Designers found cardboard to be more renewable than other bed frame materials, such as plastic and wood, and yet was highly durable.
According to Airweave’s Takaoka, the company first considered donating the beds to hospitals when the pandemic began. “Once we knew the Olympics would be postponed by a year, we reckoned we could put the beds to use for more pressing purposes,” he told VICE World News.
“But the pandemic never got bad enough where prefectures were scrambling for beds. So we’re happy to put them to good use now,” he said.
Airweave provided 18,000 beds to the Summer Olympics that concluded in August, and 8,000 beds to the Paralympic Games that ended last week, both held in Tokyo. The company said it would donate the frames with the goal of creating a more “sustainable society.”
Ten thousand sets of mattresses and pillows used in the summer games will go to Japan’s National Institution for Youth Education, which runs youth education facilities nationwide.
The remaining beddings and bed frames will be donated to local governments and railway companies for use in their crews’ nap rooms and child group homes. The linens—sheets and pillowcases—will be donated to a Tokyo rehabilitation corporation that will recycle them into work clothes for people with disabilities.
On Sept. 1, the prefecture reported the highest number of daily caseloads since the beginning of the pandemic. The number has since fallen, but over 65 percent of its hospital beds, both for serious and non-life threatening cases of COVID-19, are occupied.