The headline of India's Mail Today newspaper read Thursday: "It's a Rubbery Problem."
Condoms have been supplied to athletes for free, as part of a program to promote safe sex that first began at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. A vending machine stocked with 4,000 packs of condoms, with two prophylactics in each pack, is installed at the athletes' village, which houses more than 7,000 athletes and officials from around the world. Half of the condoms have already been taken, the Mail Today reported.
Asked about the sewer blockages and their alleged source, Mike Fennell, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, told a news conference Thursday that plumbers are working on the problem, but that he thinks it's good if athletes are practicing safe sex.
"It shows there is some use of condoms and that is a very positive story that the athletes are being responsible," Fennell said to a room of snickering reporters, according to New Zealand television. "I hope that satisfies your question."
A spokesperson for the Games' organizers also told The Guardian: "If they are so active then that's very good. ... We are promoting safe sex."
But another unnamed Commonwealth Games official told The Independent that "there was no clogging in the drains at the village and no plumber was called in. This is mere sensationalization by media."
Whatever is clogging drains in the athletes' village, it's the latest fiasco to embarrass the Games' Indian organizers, already reeling from controversies over dirty swimming pools that may have sickened competitors, poor construction of sports venues, the collapse of a pedestrian bridge, and athletes quarters deemed "uninhabitable" by foreigners.
At the opening ceremony last weekend, spectators booed the head of India's organizing committee, and Australian officials complained that their athletes had been "treated like cattle" and forced to endure an hourlong wait in a stiflingly hot tunnel. Workers are scrambling to mend cracks discovered in the Games' running tracks.
Asked about whether the Games' atmosphere, despite some problems, has been amorous -- leading to the condom backup -- Matthew Syed, a former British table tennis player who competed in the Beijing Olympics, told The Independent: definitely.
"I am often asked if the Olympic village is the sex-fest it is cracked up to be. My answer is: Too right it is," he said. Syed said he had sex twice in the 2 1/2 weeks he was there, "which may not sound a lot, but for a 21-year-old undergraduate with crooked teeth, it was a minor miracle."