Five things you might not know about sex and the Olympics

Back in 2012, ESPN published a expose describing a host of horny happenings inside the Olympic village. Since then, mainstream media has been obsessed with the idea of sexed-up athletes going for it at the Olympic village. While this all may seem like news, the link between sex and the Olympics stretches all the way back to the ancient games in Greece.

The ancient Olympics were dirty and sexy.

Today’s games seem like game of spin the bottle compared with what went on thousands of years ago in Olympia. The ancient competition was actually a pagan religious festival that included sacrifices, massive sex parties, limited access to water and very poor sanitation. Apparently one could smell the Olympics from more than a mile away. If that isn’t saucy (or stinky) enough for you, don’t forget that all ancient Olympic events were conducted in the nude. The word gymnasium comes from the Greek word ‘gymnos’ (‘naked’) and appreciation of the male physique was considered a tribute to the gods. Athletes (all male) competed in the buff and everyone was pretty happy about it. There was a vague attempt in the sixth century to introduce loincloths to the competition, but the idea didn’t catch on, and soon competitors’ bits were flailing freely once again.

Abstinence and the ancient Olympics.

Ancient Greeks saw sperm as a source of masculinity and strength. As such, abstinence was an important part of an athlete's Olympic preparation. An extreme example of this was the famous fighter Cleitomachus, who never slept with his wife, refused to talk about erotic topics and would even avert his eyes if he happened across mating dogs. Many athletes would tie up their penises (a technique known as infibulation) to help suppress their erections during the competition. Outside of the games things were a little different and some ancient sporting heroes were lauded for their sexual prowess. Aurelius Zoticus was a beautiful Olympic champion whose genitals ancient historian Cassius Dio described as being quite sizeable. The Roman emperor at the time, Sardanapalus, caught wind of this and sent for him as a lover. The emperor was so enamoured with Zoticus that another of his lovers became jealous and poisoned the athlete with a sexually inhibiting drug. After an embarrassing night when he was unable to perform for the emperor, Zoticus was deprived of all honours, banished from Rome, and later kicked out of Italy entirely.

Abstinence and the modern Olympics.

Some contemporary athletes still practise abstinence before competition – despite the fact that there is no evidence that sex negatively impacts sporting performance. Research has found that pre-competition sex actually increases testosterone for both men and women and provides psychological benefits for competitors. Current thinking is that athletes should maintain normal rates of sexual activity for optimal performance. Timing, however, can be an issue. Having sex immediately before a competition can significantly effect the body’s recovery time. As such, Olympians are now encouraged to at least leave a couple of hours between hitting the sack and hitting the track.

Condom use blows out.

Since the ’98 Seoul games, free condoms have been provided for Olympic athletes. (The Seoul games were also notable because there were reports of condoms found on the roofs of Olympic residences, leading the Olympic Association to place an official ban on outdoor sex.) Seoul kicked things off with a modest 8,500 condoms – and the numbers have steadily expanded since. Barcelona required 90,000. Sydney ordered 70,000 but ran out halfway through the games and had to send for 20,000 more. The Salt Lake City winter games set a new record with 100,000. Which was then bettered by Athens with 130,000. London hit a new high with 150,000, but this was well and truly smashed this year when Rio provided an unprecedented 450,000 condoms to athletes. This huge rise is partially due to a dramatic increase in female condoms, 100,000 of which are available at this year’s games. About 175,000 packets of lubricant have also been supplied.

Ansell does its part.

In the wake of concern about the Zika virus, we sent supplies of LifeStyles® Dual Protect™ to the Australian Olympic team in Rio this year. Dual Protect is the world’s only anti-viral condom. While the physical barrier of the condom provides primary protection, the condom lubricant contains VivaGel®, an antiviral agent that has been proven in laboratory studies to inactivate HIV, HSV (genital herpes) and HPV (human papillomavirus), which are viruses that cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The compound has also been proven in laboratory studies to provide near-complete antiviral protection against Zika virus, which has been reported to have been sexually transmitted.