Tokyo Olympics: Hosts to give out 150,000 condoms for use in Athletes Village
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be staged for a month from this July. Over 10, 000 athletes will congregate in Tokyo with the bulk of athletes operating from the Olympic Village. However, questions have been raised before of how these elite athletes cope being away from their families? What about their spouses back at home who are looking after young children?
Well, for athletes, they just need to relax because, Japan will distribute 150,000 condoms for athletes despite the release of a 33-page document detailing social distancing rules that athletes must abide by. It is a confirmation the Olympics is not all about winning medals on the track or courts. Some will strike gold elsewhere and the organisers are offering a conducive atmosphere to compesate for their time away from home.
American boxer Muhammad Ali, however, used to avoid his wife for a month in the runup to any major bout.
Kenya’s marathon great Eliud Kipchoge also stayed away from home for three months before the record breaking INEOS Challenge in Viena, Austria where he made history becoming the first man to run the marathon in under two hours. He clocked 1:59: 40 in September 2019. And what is more, besides the one month in camp, teams have four months of preparations, mostly away from home.
Among the women’s team sports for the 2020 Olympics will be Kenya’s Malkia Strikers (volleyball) and Kenya Lionesses (rugby). Malkia Strikers, the record African champions, will be returning to the Games after 16 years. Janet Wanja will be the only surviving member of the team that last toop part in the Olympics in Athens, Greece in 2004.
Volleyball coach Paul Bitok is planning a lengthy four-month preparation from March in readiness for the Olympics and hopes are high.
“This is the only championship that is missing in my volleyball CV,” Seychelles-based Jane Wacu told The Nairobian from the island-nation. The Olympics were moved to this year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, which decimated sports globally.
As part of safety measures, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) will have athletes training in bubbles without interacting with the outside world while in camp.
“Nikama tutakuwa kwa jela? (it’s as if we’ll be in some sort of jail?” wondered Wacu, herself a Kenya Prisonsofficer based at Kamiti, when we explained the bubble-training concept to her. Psychologically, players will be incarcerated without access to friends and family.
Coach Bitok plans a three-week camp in Europe with friendly matches in Turkey and Slovakia subject to the availability of visas to Europe. This should come immediately after the Africa Club Championship penciled for mid April in Cairo.
From Europe, Malkia Strikers will head straight to Japan for a mandatory 21-day training camp in Kurume City before going to Tokyo in July for the Olympic Games proper. Wacu reckons she will be safe during the bubble training period.
“Personally, I don’t have a child and a husband to tie me down and I’m used to staying outside the country for even up to a year without seeing even my mum and friends.
“However, it will be a bit tough for those with young kids and young families,” say an empathetic Wacu.
The setter boasts of FIVB World Gra Grand Prix, All Africa Games, Africa Championship and Africa Club Championship titles. Wacu is still waiting for Seychelles to open its airspace to return home for the national team assignment.
But do other players worry about what their spouses will be up to during their absence? “It doesn’t bother me,” said a senior player, who recently welcomed a new baby. Just like Wacu, Joan Chelagat, the Kenya Prisons middle blocker, is also looking forward to her Olympics debut and is not perturbed what her husband of over 10 years will be up to.
“If he’s someone who doesn’t respect you, definitely he’ll do that but for my case, I don’t think he can do that,” says Chelagat ,who had a good run of form in the 2019 season before Covid put a stop to the Kenya Volleyball Federation league.
“It could prove a big challenge for young couples who are just starting life because they need to build that trust. But at the end of the day, they (men) should understand that this is like any other job, so I can only appeal to them to respect their spouses and you can only do that by staying faithful to her while she’s toiling for the family,” explains Chelagat, whose hubby is a former volleyball player.
Other players will not be as lucky as Chelagat when their men are left with kids and house helps for months on end.
“I know that he moves around even when I’m around, so I won’t be disturbed while am away on national duty. Furthermore, men are polygamous by nature and you can’t fight nature,” said a mother of one, who requested anonymity.
“What I know is that it is not easy for women to cheat tukiwa huko nje because, first, the movement is restricted then second, you don’t just sleep around with anyone from the street. At least you’ve got to know the person, but two or three weeks ain’t enough time to court and start sleeping with someone you’ve met on a trip.”
“This might not apply to men but it’s not something that you can pull off that easily especially if it’s not in your blood. Unless if he’s been doing it even when you were around so your absence will just give him more courage to do it.”
Wacu, though still single, has a word of advice to her peers.
“The good side about it (staying away for long) is that it might come with reasonable allowances, but the government needs to pay players in advance so that they can plan for their loved ones who will be left behind.”