Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Culture

The Olympic cardboard beds were finally defeated — by the Israeli baseball team

It was one of the big early stories of the Tokyo Olympics: The cardboard beds.

Sure, athletes were told the beds were an attempt to reduce waste, since the materials used to make them are sustainable and easily recyclable. But in the Olympic Village and international media alike, the rumor quickly spread that the beds were intentionally fragile to prevent athletes from, ahem, socializing too much, and potentially spreading COVID along the way.

Well, now we know what it really takes to break one of those beds: nine members of the Israeli Olympic baseball team, all jumping on it at once, as chronicled in a TikTok video posted by pitcher Ben Wanger.

Team Israel weren’t the first to show the public their attempts to test the beds’ sturdiness. Athletes from around the world tried their strength with various vigorous activities — performing clap push-ups, jumping jacks and even dramatic movie scenes involving fainting. But the beds held strong before the baseball team took on the challenge.

@ilonamaherTesting out the cardboard beds at the Olympic Village ##beastbeautybrains ##olympics ##cardboardbeds ##tokyoolympics ##usarugby ##japan ##athletes ##rugger

♬ original sound – Ilona Maher

The fact that the team actually did break the bed has resulted in some blowback. Wanger removed the video of their feat from TikTok, and replaced it with an apology in which he clarified that the bed was a spare and that all the beds would be recycled after the games anyway. He added that he finds the beds comfortable, appreciates the efforts toward sustainability and that “Japan has done an exceptional job” with the Olympics as a whole.

Wanger, who grew up in Newton, MA and is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, graduated from Yale with a degree in economics and environmental engineering. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, and is currently working on a second master’s in international business. To play for Israel, he had to get dual citizenship; he told the Miami Herald that playing for Team Israel has given him “a new window into the Jewish culture and religion and kind of a new identity.”

This is the first time since 1976 that Israel has qualified for an Olympic team sport. Wanger and his bed-breaking teammates played South Korea on Thursday, losing 6-5, and will play the U.S. on Friday.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.