A plan to provide free condoms to Olympic athletes at the 2002 Winter Olympics is facing passionate protests from various pro-family groups.
“I thought it was absolutely appalling that the Salt Lake Organizing committee, in the name of public safety, would push condoms on the athletes,” said 25-year-old Brandi Swindell, leader of Generation Life, a Boise, Idaho-based pro-life group.
“We all know that condoms are not safe. We have had the safe sex campaign for the past 25 years and what is the result?” she asked. “This is very, very serious; the International Olympic Committee is playing Russian roulette with people’s lives,” Swindell noted.
The group found out about the condom giveaway “about three months ago,” said Swindell. Concerned that 12- and 13-year-old athletes would be given packages containing condoms, Swindell sent the Olympic organizing committee a letter outlining her group’s concerns.
“We didn’t get a response,” she said. Later as the story broke, Generation Life did get a response from International Olympic Committee spokesman Carolyn Shaw, stating that the condom giveaway was done in pursuit of “public health.”
Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health donated the condoms to the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. Attempts to reach Cardinal Health were unsuccessful.
“I think it’s an outrage that we as a city and state through the Olympics condone immoral sexual activity,” Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, told the Associated Press. “They can buy their own condoms if they want them.”
Twenty-year-old Brenna Sullenger of Operation Rescue said she will be joining Swindell at protests during the Winter Olympics.
“We are going out there because we want the world to know that abortion is an issue. Even though there is this great event going on, babies are being killed just down the street. The condom thing is outrageous. It is encouraging irresponsibility. I find this very insulting. I think it’s very inappropriate [on the part of the SLOC],” she told WND.
“Recreational sex is not an Olympic sport,” Swindell said emphatically. “We just think these athletes have a once in a lifetime chance to showcase their talents. There is no reason that the IOC needs to go out and get condoms for them. The Olympics are not some type of frat party with condoms being passed around.”
The protesters plan a demonstration Friday in front of the Olympic headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City.
“We are expecting to have 30 to 50 activists to protest in front of the Olympic Organizing committee’s headquarters,” Swindell said. “It’s our generation that’s carrying the burden of the safe-sex myth. It’s just not working. It is time that we stand up to this. I’m very concerned for some of the younger athletes,” she added.
During the Olympics Generation Life plans to distribute brochures explaining the failure rate of condoms and the dangers of safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases.
SLOC media relations personnel Jeremy Kratcher referred WND to Shaw, who was unavailable for comment.
Regarding the 12,000 condoms donated by Cardinal Health, committee spokeswoman Vania Grandi said the condoms will be available for free inside clinics at the 10 competition sites and the athletes’ village, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’re not distributing them,” she said. “They’re available like aspirin, Tylenol and bandages. It’s good public health policy.”
Vuk Radjenovic, 18, a member of Yugoslavia’s bobsled team, endorsed the condom policy, said the Herald. “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.”
Maria Elena Kennedy, a journalist based in Southern California, writes about religion, politics and law for various outlets in California, including the Spanish language newspaper, La Cruz de California.