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No "frangers," no "frozen" at somber athletes' camp

BEIJING (Reuters) - Famed for being a hotbed of hormones where brawny boxers can barely wait until the post Games party to hook up with leggy blonde pole vaulters, the Olympic Village may disappoint on the party front this year.

A photographer takes a picture of a typical bedroom where athletes and delegation members live during a guided tour for photographers inside the Olympic Village ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 5, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar

Boxes of free condoms had to be handed out at the 2004 Athens Olympics after contraception ran out at the previous Games in Sydney, where sparks first flew between Roger Federer and his longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec.

In Beijing, not only are the condom gift-bags lacking, but the soulless hangar-like disco room -- complete with grey walls, grey carpet, sub-zero air conditioning and live Chinese folk music -- may well nip any sizzling romance in the bud.

“I suggest they won’t find what they need in here, like crazy fun and the happy hour,” admitted a member of a shaggy haired Chinese rock band, also performing at the venue, as he sipped a fizzy drink in the near-empty bar where booze is banned and the 90s pop disco ends at midnight.

“There’s no alcohol here because it’s forbidden in the Village. It’s not the best nightlife of Beijing,” the rocker said, declining to give his name.

The beautifully manicured Olympic Village, which is lodging some 10,000 athletes and their trainers in brand new apartments, is getting top marks for organization, facilities and food, but not for encouraging mingling.

“I haven’t seen any bags of frangers,” said world champion rower Amber Halliday, using a slang word for condoms from her native Australia. “But the Australian Olympic Committee has a big bowl out on the table and you can help yourself.”


Rowers, whose events are in the first week, expect to hit the town big time afterwards, but not inside the Village where athletes with bodies like Gods in every ethnic shade mill around in small groups where clothing color signals nationality.

In the games room, two strapping Indonesian athletes avert their eyes discreetly as they stroll by two Eastern European girls in tiny shorts whacking the puck at the air hockey table.

“Until the competition is finished you tend to give people space,” said Halliday, 28, of the lack of mingling. “But there’ll be plenty of partying on the outside in the second week. Where there’s an Aussie there’s a way to get drunk.”

China has pulled out all the stops for the 2008 Olympics, which it promises will be the best ever.

The 66-hectare Village has laid on everything from Peking Duck to Chinese massage and has armies of smiling volunteers on hand to help guests. Only the evening entertainment sucks.

Gambling in the games room is prohibited, a sign says, and the DVDs on offer are all strictly family movies.

“Is too many smiley and good behavior. No TV and no frozen,” complained Kazakh canoeing trainer Alexandr Davydov in broken English, referring to the absence of a fridge in the apartments where one might have been able to keep a cold beer.

“Just sitting in the apartment each night,” he sighed.

Still, the guys at least can console themselves that there are a record number of women athletes this year -- 45 percent of the total -- and that the fun factor has been worse.

In the 1932 Los Angeles games, women weren’t even allowed in the Olympic Village, and in the Lake Placid Winter Games of 1980 athletes were housed in a newly built medium-security prison.

Editing by Miles Evans