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I Spent A Day On Olympic Village Tinder & Want My Money Back

I knew TikTok was onto something when I came across comedian Reed Kavner matching with athletes on Olympic Village Tinder. After switching his location to Tokyo, the home of this year’s Olympic games, Kavner easily joined in on the fun and showed how you, too, can match with some of the world’s most successful athletes. It just so happens that finding someone who can crush a 400-meter sprint then cuddle me is my dream, so with the Olympics in full-swing, I figured, why not at least try to make my dream a reality? Shortly after discovering Kavner’s video, I changed my location to the Olympic Village and attempted to find my match.

I plunged into the world of dating athletes somewhat un-glamorously, paying the $9.99 to download Tinder Plus. I then dragged my little purple thumbtack over to none other than Chuo City in Tokyo, Japan, the center of the Olympic games. Then, the swiping commenced. Here’s what went down.

Wait…where are the olympians?

During my first 20 minutes of swiping, I instantly noticed that everyone on Olympic Village Tinder was super attractive. I’m talking more six packs than my local grocery store’s spirits aisle. And after seeing profiles of many cute Tokyo natives, I suddenly regretted never taking Japanese in my life.

Next, I noticed that I had some serious competition with fellow non-athletes who had also set their Tinder locations to the Olympic Village. Their bios read: “just trying to match with an Olympian” and “Got tinder plus so I can tell people ‘I got rejected by a famous Olympic athlete,” — so, it’s safe to say they were pretty upfront about their intentions. I guess I was transparent about my lack of athleticism, too, since my bio, “plant mom and aspiring journalist,” didn’t exactly scream, “I can do 20 pushups in a row.” While it seemed like finding Olympians on Tinder had become a summer quest for many, I was determined to match with an Olympic athlete. It had to happen at some point, right? Thus, I made Tinder into a sport of my own, and began competing against every other mortal looking for a muscle-y match.

When a match messaged me first, it was only to break the news: “sorry i am not an olympian.” Disappointing, yes, but I used it as an opportunity to unlock my inner Nancy Drew. In a truly riveting investigation, I responded, “Have you matched with any Olympians?” Sadly, he had not, and we both left the DMs feeling a little deflated.

So, the quest continued. As I continued to swipe, I noticed that although my Tinder settings were set to “view everyone,” there didn’t appear to be many women — nonetheless women athletes — on the app. Considering my TikTok is usually flooded with clips of the women skateboarding teams, my daydreams of Leticia Bufoni’s arms around me faded away, and I was disheartened to not find a single one on Tinder. Where were these mysterious Olympians on Tinder, and was I ever going to find one?

What’s with the soup pics?

Although I hadn’t gotten lucky yet, my fantasy of flirtatiously DMing someone with biceps bigger than my head kept me going. But as I continued swiping, my optimism faded once again as I came across strange, unsettling close-up pictures of food and other memorabilia — like what TikToker Patsy reported seeing when she, too, changed her location to the Olympic Village. Instead of Caeleb Dressel’s beautiful face, I was seeing pictures of noodles and Japanese desserts. When I said I wanted Olympic “eye candy,” this is not what I meant. 

Not only were the food pics distracting me from my mission, but they were usually so zoomed in that I couldn’t tell what the food pics actually were. Seriously, why would anyone would choose a bowl of broth to attract potential suitors — or should I say, soup-tors? (See, what Olympian wouldn’t want to match with me?)

After further research, I discovered that apparently, posting selfies on Tinder can come off as “douchey” in Japan, and according to a report from Insider, the abundance of food imagery I saw may have been due to a cultural difference. As long as you’re taking me out to eat whatever is on your profile, fine by me, but if your profile pic is of soup and nothing else…sorry, you’re getting a left swipe. 

olympians or athletes who peaked in high school?

Just when my hand grew tired of the left swipes, I struck gold. Right there on my screen, sporting sleek jackets and posing with the Olympic rings, were the athletes I had been looking for. And yes, their biceps were, indeed, bigger than my head. I was thrilled as I hurriedly tapped through their photos. Something about their intense expressions and sweat-glistened bodies while engaging in their respective sports was very alluring. With zero hesitation, I swiped right on every one.

In what may have been my most successful Tinder story to date, I actually matched with some of the athletes. Most were incredibly cute, and they knew it. Their profiles featured more pictures of their abs than their faces, and I was not complaining. From tennis players to swimmers to athletes who played sports I didn’t even recognize, I suddenly realized what MGK must feel like every time he goes out with Megan Fox. Post-match bragging rights secured, I decided it was time to slide into those DMs. 

But of course, in world of dating, things are rarely easy. I quickly realized that none of the Olympians on Tinder — including those I matched with — had capability to send messages from their accounts. Most of them had “message me on Insta” in their bios, along with their handles. And while I consider myself a bold person, I am also a mere mortal compared to Olympic athletes. I wasn’t sure if I’d get a response by taking things to another social platform, and I wasn’t totally convinced I was ready to try.

For what I lack in bravery, I make up for in research skills. I continued matching with even more athletes with “Tokyo 2020” in their bios, and growing more confident with each swipe, I clicked over to the athletes’ Instagrams — and immediately took note of their suspiciously low follower counts. I then searched their home countries and the rosters they were apparently a part of. Plot twist: many of these “athletes” were nowhere to be found.

Yes, you read that right. It seemed like many of my Olympian matches were actually posers, AKA regular, normal people. For example, Charles’ Tinder bio read “Aussie athlete,” which really meant that he simply played rugby back in high school. It turned out that Charles, along with other former athletes on the app, had simply repurposed their old photos for their Tinder Plus accounts, and were not actually real-life Olympians. Sigh.

When I originally embarked on this experiment, I wasn’t totally sure how it would turn out. I didn’t have high hopes of actually matching with any Olympians — I’ve had the app for a while now, and, honestly, Tinder isn’t my go-to when I’m yearning for a fairytale ending. However, a quest to match with an Olympian sounded like the ultimate form of entertainment — and after seeing how many fellow Tinder users shared my idea, it became even more exciting. 

The verdict? This was a fun little challenge, even if the Olympians I matched with weren’t all they were cracked up to be. And if we’re being honest, the flood of eye candy that appeared after changing my location to Tokyo was a nice temporary change of scenery.

As for the Beijing 2022 Olympics, I’d be open to trying this experiment again. Not only do I have the inside scoop, but I have to know if the Beijing food pics will be better than the ones that scarred me on Olympic Village Tinder, Tokyo edition. Despite not having much luck this time around, chances are, I’ll give it another go during the next Olympic games. But until then, I want my $9.99 back.

Emily is a summer 2021 Editorial Intern, writing her heart out between sips of coffee and scrolling through TikTok. Having a love for reporting what her 10-year-old self called "the news" (AKA family gossip) since she learned how to use a keyboard, Emily is a senior journalism major at Lewis University. In her free time, Emily can be found reading the hottest thriller, doing plant mom things, or taking pictures of beauty products for her skincare Instagram, @emilyaspiringblog.
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