Sex sells at the Olympics

2008-08-19 00:00

From scantily-clad, gyrating go-go dancers at the beach volleyball to Germany’s finest hockey player baring all for a steamy photo shoot, sex sells at the Olympics.

Katharina Scholz has spent as much time in Beijing explaining her decision to join sailor Petra Niemann, judokar Romy Tarangul and canoeist Nicole Reinhardt in Playboy as she has discussing her part in helping Germany reach the semi-finals of the field hockey tournament.

“For me it was a good opportunity and maybe when I look back after a few years I will be proud of it,” said the 25-year-old.

“Not everybody can go on the cover of Playboy. I did it be-cause I am confident of my body and myself. It wasn’t a group decision, we haven’t seen each other. The shooting was separate.

Everyone decided it for themselves.”

Other pin-ups of the Games have also been happy to pose in and out of competition.

United States swimmer Amanda Beard was naked in Playboy last year and made headlines in Beijing even before the Games started, when she used the Athletes’ Village as a backdrop to unveil a nude photo of herself in a poster backing an animal anti-cruelty cause.

In the advertisement, a naked Beard is kneeling in water, her left hand covering her right breast and her right hand on her right hip as she stares into the camera with a huge U.S. flag filling the entire background.

“I’ve done Playboy. I’m comfortable with my body,” Beard said of her willingness to shed her clothes for a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals anti-fur campaign. “I go to the office in a swimsuit.”

Her form in the pool was not so striking as she failed to qualify for the 200 metre breastroke final.

Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice, who was a triple gold medallist in Beijing, opted for a series of raunchy shots in FHM after causing a sensation in April when her personal website featured her dressed in a tight-fitting, policewoman’s uniform.

“She’s thoughtful and not the least bit full of herself,” her manager Lisa Stallard said in her client’s defence.

Such is the high profile of the Games, and the insatiable demand for information driven by the Internet, that countless polls and picture spreads exist detailing the attractions of athletes of choice.

The News-Herald in Melbourne named Australian triathlete Erin Densham as its “hottest woman of the Games” with German swimmer Britta Steffen, a double gold medallist, at number three.

Their number two, world number one tennis player Ana Ivanovic, never played in Beijing because of injury.

The Sun in Britain, traditionally feverishly nationalistic and wary of all things European, named the German Playboy four as their favourites.

Their reporters have also enjoyed watching what they’ve dubbed the Peach Volleyball at Chaoyang Park where game intervals are filled by energetic routines performed by a troupe of bikini-clad dancers.

“We’re used to it. Whether domestically or internationally we have dancing girls with us,” said U.S. player Misty May-Treanor.

“They are working hard and they are part of what we do. In the U.S. we normally have five and I dance with them. Here it’s an army."

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