Condom Availability at Olympics a ‘Big Deal’ in Utah, New York Times Reports
The New York Times today examines the "big deal" surrounding the availability of free condoms to athletes at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, a "conservative and largely Mormon state that requires parents to give written permission for their children to attend classes when human sexuality and reproduction are discussed." The controversy is "big enough" that Generation Life, an antiabortion group that promotes abstinence before marriage, is planning five days of protests during the games, which begin next Friday. "We want to expose the horrific realities of abortion, tie in our message of chastity and tell people that condoms are not that safe," Generation Life Director Brandi Swindell said. Although some city officials fear that kind of message will "spoil the enjoyment" for some visitors, state Sen. Bill Wright (R), who is the "leading force" behind a movement to "tighten laws that make Utah one of the most restrictive states in the nation in how sex education is taught in public schools," has criticized Olympic leaders and athletes for their "cavalier approach to sex." Wright said through a spokesperson that "[i]t's atrocious that the [Salt Lake Organizing Committee] has come to this. ... They should be mature adults who represent their countries in an honest and respectful manner. I don't think this is the way to do it." Medical supply company and Olympic partner Cardinal Health Inc. is providing the 12,000 condoms that will be available for free to the athletes in clinics at 10 competition sites and in the Olympic Village. "We're not distributing them," Vania Grandi, a spokesperson for the organizing committee, said, adding, "They're available like aspirin, Tylenol and bandages. It's good public health policy." Vuk Radjenovic, a member of Yugoslavia's bobsled team, said, "It's a very good idea, a very, very good idea ... Today is a very nasty time for diseases, and there will be a lot of parties in the Olympic Village, I suppose. It's a natural thing, sex, but you must be careful." Condoms have been available at every Olympics since 1992 (Janofsky, New York Times, 2/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.