BEIJING - The Olympics are sexy.
Pole vault world record-holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia has taken the art of flirting with the crowd to new heights. Others like American swimmer Amanda Beard have simply taken their clothes off.
Germany's Playboy Magazine has four Olympic athletes revealing all in its current edition - canoeist Nicole Reinhardt, hockey player Katharina Scholz, sailor Petra Niemann and judoka Romy Tarangul.
Beijing fencing gold medallist Britta Heidemann posed for the same magazine four years ago.
"Hockey is sexy," says Scholz.
The vast majority of the 10500 young athletes in Beijing are very body-conscious. Sexy photos can promote their sport - witness the bikini-clad beach volleyball girls.
However, is taking off your clothes really beneficial? "The question is: Does sex sell?" American professor Mary Jo Kane, who does research on girls and women in sport, observed recently.
"It sells magazines and products. Does it translate into greater interest and respect in women's sports? And the answer is, it does not.
"The assumption is that sex sells. The assumption is, for women's sports to survive, you have to attract the real fans, which are male fans. And you have to attract them with how pretty they are and how sexy they are."
Some sports are better off because they are popular, although swimmers have a disadvantage because they compete in water.
The 26-year-old Isinbayeva loves to flirt with the crowd. She blows kisses, smiles, summersaults after world records and just loves all the attention without being arrogant. But she has not appeared naked on the cover of Playboy. Instead, it was Cosmopolitan.
"I love to be alone at the top. It's so cool and I will try to keep my position as long as possible," she said after her world record vault of 5,05m on Monday night.
For marketing people the Russian is the ideal athlete sexy and successful. - Sapa-DPA