Athletes participating in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang will be “treated” to another form of protection in the form of generous, if not overflowing, a supply of condoms. A condom manufacturer is donating 100,000 latex rubbers to the athletes’ village.
The 100,000 condoms will come from South Korean manufacturer Convenience Co. The Korean Association for AIDS Prevention will add in another 10,000 more latex rubbers for the athletes’ village. It will be the most ever made available at a Winter Games, although it will still be fewer than the 450,000 distributed during the larger 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Park Kyung Jin, president of Convenience Co., said ensuring that the Olympics are well-stocked with free condoms is an "honor" and his company hopes "athletes will finish the tournament and return home in good health."
South Korea is still generally a conservative nation when it comes to openly discussing sexual matters- despite some calls for the country to start talking about a sexual revolution especially with the widespread popularity of social media. Some advocates are hoping that the attention given to condom use at the Winter Olympics will inspire South Korea to shed some of its inhibitions on talks about sexual matters.
Hyeouk Chris Hahm, a Boston University professor who has researched sexual attitudes among South Korean adolescents said: "It is a great time to seize this opportunity to start having an open discussion.”
Curiously, despite the country’s general reticence in discussing sex, a 2016 report in the Journal of Social Service Research, co-authored by Hahm, says that in recent decades, nearly half of the nation’s youth have reported engaging in sexual encounters in their teens. In some cases, teens are even turning their backs on societal expectations to remain abstinent before marriage.
The report also found, however, that although adolescents are initiating sex at an earlier age, this review indicated that their sexual knowledge is poor, putting them at high risk of unhealthy sexual activities and (sexually transmitted infection) acquisition.
STD prevention for one is not as openly addressed as saying the rampant ads for plastic surgery and weight loss programs even in a major city as Seoul.
Hahm said there remains a stigma in Korean society about openly talking about safe sex and birth control. Hahm said: "South Korea has one of the lowest fertility rates, and yet, South Korea has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.”
South Korea is actually no stranger to handing out condoms at the Olympics. The 1988 Summer Games in Seoul was the first time condoms were publicly distributed at the international sporting event. It was part of an effort to reduce the spread of HIV at that time.