Religious Activists Protest Free Condom Distribution at 2002 Winter Olympics
Religious activists and antiabortion demonstrators have begun protesting the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's decision to make free condoms available to athletes residing in the Olympic Village at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the Associated Press reports. Cardinal Health, the official drug supplier for the Olympics, donated 12,000 condoms to the village, whose residents began arriving this week, and the SLOC will make the prophylactics available for free at first-aid stations. Brandi Swindell, director of the antiabortion group Generation Life, said that condoms are not "100% reliable" and "only promote sexual promiscuity" and called the organizing committee's decision to condone free condom distribution within the village "morally offensive" and "appalling." However, SLOC spokesperson Caroline Shaw said that the availability of condoms helps promote the games' goal of ensuring the safety and health of athletes. "We consider it a good public health practice," she said. Adam Glickman, CEO of the Los Angeles-based condom store Condomania, stated that the protesters are "missing the boat," adding, "Condoms, when distributed with educational material, have been shown to decrease sexual promiscuity." The International Olympic Committee does not require condoms be supplied to athletes, and none were distributed at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. However, at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, the free condoms were "such a hit" among village residents that organizers had trouble meeting the demand. Swindell stated that her group feels the Olympic Games should be focused on "unity and sportsmanship" among athletes rather than "recreational sex ... even safe sex." But the Associated Press reports that the popularity of free condoms in the Sydney Olympic Village was largely attributable to a lack of access to high-quality condoms in many countries and not to extensive sexual activity among village residents during the games (Associated Press, 1/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.