London Olympians lap up 150,000 condoms

By Temba Ol’ltichil’lo in London

You would think that the supremely fit sportsmen and women in London for the Olympics require every ounce of energy they can spare.

But the International Olympics Committee is not taking that for granted, and has taken significant steps to protect or prevent the athletes from disease by supplying them with some 150,000 condoms.

There are 10,500 athletes at the games, meaning that each one of them has been given 15 free condoms should they choose to sweat it out outside their official Olympics events.

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Condoms manufacturer Durex says it is on standby to replenish supplies should athletes run out before the end of the 17-day sporting extravaganza.

Athletes say that sexual encounters are rampant in the games village and the supply of free condoms is an important and welcome move. The 150,000 condoms so far given out in London is already far higher than the 100,000 condoms made available to athletes in Beijing four years ago.

The London Olympics have many glamorous athletes. Some have posed nude for magazines.

Condoms are not the only thing in the league of big numbers.

The games, as I mentioned in this column earlier this week, cost £10 billion or Kes 1.3 trillion. Some 10,500 athletes are participating from 205 countries. One country paraded itself as “The former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia”, which left me wondering whether it was an actual country. Then an athlete who fled South Sudan as a child was allowed to compete as an “independent”. Surely, the man can run for South Sudan, which is an actual country, or the United States where he lives?

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Some 8.8 million tickets are available for the 26 Olympic sports (and 39 disciplines) – ranging from archery to football, beach volleyball, basketball, to the all-important track and field events. On average 60,000 people who have purchased Olympics tickets or have reserved seats have failed to show up.

Purchasing ticket prices has been a major pain. Opening ceremony tickets cost as much as £2012 (Kes 270,000) each. Closing ceremony tickets will range from £655 to £1500.

To watch David Rudisha run the final of the 800 metres, you will need to fork out up to £725 (Kes 94,250) for a seat in the Olympics stadium.

The London Olympics have also been a boost to jobs. Some 5,000 paid employees are working on the games, plus a small army of volunteers. As many as 18,000 soldiers are protecting the games.

Last week, organisers reported that 95 leaders were at the opening ceremony. But our own President, Mwai Kibaki, was not in the crowd. He also did not visit Kenya’s athletes as planned, sending the sports minister instead. Needless to say, neither the officials nor athletes were chaffed by his absence.

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Kenya’s moment arrives on Friday with the start of the athletics programme, and our brilliant performers need not worry too much about what they will say in the post-race interviews.

They need to mouth any one of these phrases: “It is unbelievable”, “It is awesome” and “It is incredible”. Pressed further, they must repeat the same phrase. It is working for the British athletes so far and appears to dissuade news anchors from probing any further.

Follow Temba on Twitter @35Temba

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