Olympic authorities are investigating a bucket of unapproved, non-sponsor condoms found in the village.
Australia's Caroline Buchanan discovered this bucket of unapproved-brand condoms. (Twitter)
The commercialization of the Olympics even reaches into the Olympic Village, where thousands of athletes from around the world live, rest, and do exactly what you'd expect from a bunch of physically fit young people who are filled with adrenaline and excitement. Since the 1992 Barcelona games, host cities have supplied the village with free condoms, and the London 2012 games have extended their ubiquitous sponsorship opportunities -- and fierce protection of those sponsors -- even here, selling exclusive condom rights to Durex. And when they say exclusive, they're not kidding.
Australian BMX cyclist Caroline Buchanan, one of the Olympic Village's many athletic residents, sparked one of the Olympics' many copyright-protection investigations when she tweeted a photo of a bucket of free condoms. A sign over the bucket reads "Kangaroo Condoms: For the Gland Down Under."
Putting aside the egregious violation of Olympic rings copyright (Olympic authorities have put a halt to bakers, florists, and little old ladies using the rings without paying for the right), the big problem here is that the bucket contains a handful of non-Durex condoms. The Ansell and Pasante brand condoms are being handed out in violation of sponsorship rules, the authorities explained, and so must be stopped.
"We will look into this and ask that they are not handed out to other athletes because Durex are our supplier," a spokeswoman told the Guardian. Both Ansell and Pasante wisely denied that their companies played any role in putting the condoms there.
Olympic Villages are, famously, hotbeds of sexual activity. Durex supplied more than enough condoms -- 150,000, they say, and all handed out to athletes for free -- and surely paid well for the right. The organizers in the International Olympic Committee argue that the games are expensive, that they wouldn't happen without sponsorship, and that they can charge sponsors so much in part because of how aggressively they protect those sponsors' exclusive rights.
"If Coca-Cola is spending upwards of £100M [$157 million] for a right of association, which is clearly a huge amount of money, the IOC understands brands need category exclusivity," a marketing academic told the BBC. In 2006, in preparation for the 2012 London games, the UK Parliament passed a law to bolster sponsors' rights and the ability of authorities to enforce them.
Still, condoms might be a commercial product, but they're also a medical device. At some point, it seems worth balancing Durex's commercial interests (and the IOC's balance sheet) against public health. Olympic athletes are already burdened with their home country's national prestige and, by extension of the Olympics' sponsorships, with the games' commercial interests. Surely we can grant them a little physical and commercial privacy when they're back in their village dorms.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
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A yearlong investigation of Greek houses reveals their endemic, lurid, and sometimes tragic problems—and a sophisticated system for shifting the blame.
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
Why are so many kids with bright prospects killing themselves in Palo Alto?
The air shrieks, and life stops. First, from far away, comes a high whine like angry insects swarming, and then a trampling, like a herd moving through. The kids on their bikes who pass by the Caltrain crossing are eager to get home from school, but they know the drill. Brake. Wait for the train to pass. Five cars, double-decker, tearing past at 50 miles an hour. Too fast to see the faces of the Silicon Valley commuters on board, only a long silver thing with black teeth. A Caltrain coming into a station slows, invites you in. But a Caltrain at a crossing registers more like an ambulance, warning you fiercely out of its way.
The kids wait until the passing train forces a gust you can feel on your skin. The alarms ring and the red lights flash for a few seconds more, just in case. Then the gate lifts up, signaling that it’s safe to cross. All at once life revives: a rush of bikes, skateboards, helmets, backpacks, basketball shorts, boisterous conversation. “Ew, how old is that gum?” “The quiz is next week, dipshit.” On the road, a minivan makes a left a little too fast—nothing ominous, just a mom late for pickup. The air is again still, like it usually is in spring in Palo Alto. A woodpecker does its work nearby. A bee goes in search of jasmine, stinging no one.
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