A headline on the website for The Times of India, one of India's most popular and reputable newspapers, reads that "Sweden Will Soon Host the European Sex Championship." According to the report, Sweden has officially recognized sex as a sport and, to determine who's best at it, would host a tournament in which contestants would engage in daily encounters lasting up to six hours.
The competition was apparently scheduled to begin June 8 in the city of Gothenburg.
Other mainstream outlets and their social media platforms have also carried the claim. However, the Swedish sports body has denied the existence of any such event.
Some Pakistani websites also covered the story. This Greek portal even mentioned the participation of Greek contestants in the tournament. The reputable South African media house IOL and a Nigerian website also reported the story.
In its report on the competition, the popular German media house RTL conducted a poll asking users: "What do you think about recognizing sex as a sport?"
But is the story too good to be true? Let's have a closer look.
Claim: Sweden has formally recognized sex as a sport and will hold its first-ever sex tournament this week.
Fact check: False
"All this information is false," Anna Setzman, spokesperson for the Swedish Sports Confederation, said in a written statement from Stockholm to DW. "Right now, false information is being spread in some international media about Sweden and Swedish sports," she added. "These are vigorously denied."
How did it all start?
Göteborgs-Posten, one of the major Swedish-language dailies, reported that a Swedish man named Dragan Bratic was behind the whole drama.
According to the newspaper, Bratic owns several strip clubs and wanted sex to be classified as a sport. He submitted an application to become a member of the confederation in January of this year. The Swedish Sports Confederation confirmed to DW that there was an individual who claimed there was a sex federation and applied for membership, but the application was rejected in May.
"The Swedish Sports Confederation has drawn attention to the fact that in some parts of the international media news is currently being spread that a sex federation has become member of the Swedish Sports Confederation," Setzman said in the statement. "It is false information with the aim of smearing Swedish sports and Sweden."
Another prominent Indian media house associated with CNBC published "details" on how to participate in the event, even including an email address associated with a "Swedish Sex Federation." Interestingly, a website with that name does exist, but it led to a pornography website with a different URL that is currently running a countdown for the "tournament" and claims that it will livestream the event.
The confederation categorically denied any collaboration with a sex organization. "There is no sex federation that is a member of the Swedish Sports Confederation," said Setzman.
Sex is taboo
Sex is a taboo topic for many countries. And Nordic countries are known for hosting some unusual competitions, such as wife carrying and the World Sauna Championship (which came to an end in 2010 after the death of a participant). However, a sex competition is not one of them.
Numerous media outlets from South Asia showed interest in the topic without checking the facts, including this misguided video by the India Today group, another reputable media house.
Other outlets published misleading articles. One explained how knowledge of the Kamasutra, an ancient Sanskrit scripture on eroticism and sex, would aid participants in the event, only to reveal in the last paragraph that the championship was fake news.