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Olympics organizers keep tradition of giving athletes condoms, but only as they leave Tokyo

Tokyo Organizers were asked last month why they were giving condoms to athletes while also demanding they follow strict social distancing rules.

Editor's note: This story is updated to include that Tokyo organizers have since said athletes would be given the condoms as they leave the country.

It's been a tradition for more than 30 years at the Olympics. Games organizers give out hundreds of thousands of free condoms to athletes in the Olympic village with a message of promoting safe sex.

Once again at the Tokyo Olympics, organizers planned to give out roughly 150,000 condoms to athletes, according to reports. But athletes were also being told to basically stay away from each other due to COVID-19

Days after the apparent contradiction was revealed, organizers reportedly announced they are giving the condoms to athletes as they are leaving the country.

One of the rules found on page 34 of the most recent Tokyo Olympics playbook given to athletes says, "Avoid unnecessary forms of contact." It specifically examples such as hugs, handshakes and high-fives. But presumably it also means any other forms of physical contact that aren't part of competition.

The Guardian reported on June 18 that those in the Olympic village who do not follow social distancing rules could be disqualified, deported and face fines.

So with all that being said, how did Tokyo organizers explain giving out condoms to athletes while also telling them to, basically, not touch each other?

"The distribution of condoms is not for use at the athlete's village, but to have athletes take them back to their home countries to raise awareness" around HIV and AIDS, organizers reportedly told Reuters on June 14. 

Six days after that statement, USA TODAY reported that organizers said the condoms would be handed out when athletes are departing Tokyo.

The tradition of giving out condoms goes back to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, at the height of the HIV and AIDS scare. That year, the number of condoms given out was 8,500, according to USA TODAY. Five years ago in Rio, it was 450,000 -- partly due to efforts to curb the spread of Zika.

A 2012 expose by ESPN highlighted how much physical activity happens between Olympic athletes away from the field of play. Former U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo estimated 70-75% of Olympians had sex at the Games.

Fans will be banned from Tokyo-area stadiums and arenas after the Japanese government put the capital under a COVID-19 state of emergency because of rising new infections and the highly contagious delta variant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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