We already know that things can get pretty hot and heavy in the Olympic village; there will be about 100,000 condoms provided to over 12,000 athletes who are participating in the games. Yet few know that the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) is doing so as part of its commitment to promoting AIDS awareness and prevention.
Due to the impact of HIV and AIDS on the sporting world, the IOC demonstrates its genuine concern for the athletes in the Olympics and all the potential Olympians that reside in countries ravaged by the disease. Thus, the IOC has established a framework that anyone can follow if they want to really put up a fight against HIV and AIDS.
In 2004, the IOC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, agreeing to use its leverage to help combat the devastating disease. To do so, the IOC developed a toolkit that is passed out to coaches and other sports administrators as a guide to help them share information about the disease to athletes. The guide has all the basics of AIDS, such as what it is and how it can be prevented, but it also includes a section specifically about the relationship between sports and HIV. Additionally, the IOC strongly encourages any Olympic athletes that have HIV or AIDS to make their condition public, thus helping to end some of the stigma attached to the disease.
The kits have been so effective, national Olympic committees (NOC) of countries with high prevalence of AIDS cases have implemented their own initiatives. The Kenyan NOC partners with the National AIDS Control Council to bring in athletes to talk about AIDS prevention, while the NOC of South Africa hosts an annual walk to raise money for AIDS research and preventive projects. This narrative plays out in over 10 other countries, each modifying the kit to fit the needs of its people. The work of the IOC is a wonderful example of how a powerful organization can positively impact people by giving them tools to protect themselves against AIDS.
Although the distribution of 100,000 condoms to Olympic athletes might be seen as provocative, it’s important not to lose focus on the real reason why those condoms are so crucial.