The Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo have begun with all of the pomp and ceremony that have made the event so iconic. But in recent years, one person in particular has become an almost vital part of the opening ceremony tradition.
As the athletes for hundreds of nations entered Olympic Stadium, all eyes were on the nation of Tonga – specifically, flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua. Taufatofua has become a viral sensation over the last few Olympic games for bearing the flag wearing no shirt but sporting plenty of oil on his chest.
Tonga has only one medal in decades of appearances at the Olympic Games. But Taufatofua raises the national profile of the nation every time he gets on camera.
Fans on social media have been waiting with bated breath to see him return. And when the cameras finally did pan to Taufatofua, the reaction was quick and pretty predictable:
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) July 23, 2021
— beth⁷ 🧈💃🏻✨ (@quean_bee) July 23, 2021
— ■■■■■■■ (@chevalierkun) July 23, 2021
— MrJDS (@mrjdsworld) July 23, 2021
— Mona (@Mona_TZK) July 23, 2021
Pita Taufatofua isn’t without some competition for best-looking man at the Opening Ceremony though. Vanuatu flag-bearer Riilio Ril has caught a ton of attention today due to his identical getup.
— Kris Pangilinan (@KrisReports) July 23, 2021
Pita Taufatofua represents Tonga in the Summer Olympics for taekwondo and in the Winter Olympics for cross-country skiing. But while neither Taufatofua has never medaled in the Olympics, the international attention he’s received has been arguably more valuable.
In the years since his first appearance at the Olympics, Taufatofua has become a UNICEF ambassador and has worked to raise awareness of global warming.
Good luck in the Games!