2020 Tokyo Olympics: Village Cardboard Beds Get Tested, Broken By Baseball Players

by Josh Lanier

How many baseball players does it take to break a cardboard bed? That’s not the set-up for a joke, the Israel Men’s baseball team put one of their beds at the Olympics to the test. And it turns out that they’re impressively sturdy.

The subject of the beds at the Olympic Village became a meme recently. Several news outlets wrongly reported that Olympic organizers built the beds using cardboard frames to prevent athletes from hooking up. Those reports said organizers did this to prevent COVID-19 from spreading among the athletes. But Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan disproved these assertions. He posted a video showing him jumping up and down on his bed without incident.

The US Women’s Rugby team also wanted to test the beds’ mettle. Ilona Maher posted a TikTok showing her and her teammates acting out a number of scenarios atop the mattresses. Those include doing yoga poses on the beds, throwing a temper tantrum and punching and kicking the mattress, doing wrestling moves, push-ups, and one teammate even pretended to beat up a robber by punching the mattress multiple times. As a matter of fact, the beds fared just fine.

The Real Reason Behind the Cardboard Beds

The real reason Olympic organizers used cardboard bed frames is that they are more sustainable than using wood or metal.

But it begged the question, what would it take to destroy one of these beds? So, Ben Wanger of the Israeli team put one through its paces. He posted a now-viral TikTok video showing the team adding players to one of the beds until it breaks. So, how many Israelis does it take to destroy a cardboard bed? The answer is about 9.


Takashi Kitajima, the general manager of the Athletes Village, claimed the beds were supposedly “stronger than wooden beds,” he told the AP. The cardboard frames can support up to 440 pounds and are 6-feet-11-inches long to accommodate some of the taller athletes.

Creating Sustainable Beds for the Olympics

Airweave, the Japanese company that designed the beds and mattresses, said the reason they used cardboard was to meet the Olympics‘ sustainability goals.

“The concept was to make a lightweight, easy-to-assemble mattress and meet the Games’ Sustainability Plan,” the company said.

The twin beds, which feature blue comforters with the Toyko Olympics Rings, are made entirely from recycled material. And after the games are over, the organizers said they will recycle the cardboard into paper products. Officials will recycle the mattresses into plastic products, the Associated Press reported in January.

The beds will also be used for the Paralympic Games which open on August 25.

CNBC reported that the Tokyo Olympics set five sustainability themes during their creation of the Games. Moreover, the organizers are aiming to leave zero waste after the Games have ended.