Watch Olympians Put Their Cardboard Beds in Tokyo to the Test

published Aug 1, 2021
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After the world’s most impressive athletes expend all their energy to compete in their respective fields at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, they return to the Olympic Village to get a good night’s sleep on… cardboard beds. It doesn’t seem very glamorous, and to be fair, it’s not. But the cardboard beds in the Olympic Village are actually pretty cool, and incredibly eco-efficient.

Ahead of the Games, 18,000 cardboard bed frames were crafted by Japanese company Airweave out of recycled paper materials, and 8,000 of those beds will be repurposed for athletes in the upcoming Paralympics, Dezeen reports. Each cardboard bed comes with a customized mattress made with polyethylene fibers that Airweave says can be recycled infinitely into other products.

Before the Games were cancelled due to the pandemic, the committee rolled out a strict sustainability plan that vendors had to abide by. After use, Airweave will donate the cardboard bed frames to national organizations. And though they’re made from paper, the beds themselves were designed to withstand up to 440 pounds (as some athletes, like Team USA Rugby player Ilona Maher and her teammates, have put to the test).

When the athletes first arrived at the Olympic Village, a rumor began spreading that the cardboard frames were installed in order to discourage athletes from having sex and potentially spreading COVID-19. The beds were rumored to be designed to break if any sudden movements were made, but that was quickly disproven.

Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan put the “sudden movement” theory to the test in early July and found it to be “fake news.”

And, of course, cardboard beds plus an anti-sex rumor made for viral TikTok content.

Although the sound of a cardboard bed doesn’t sound very nice, these things are actually built to withstand many uses and are making the Olympic Village that much more green.