Tokyo Olympics 2021: Fans Swooning Again After Seeing Tonga’s Flag Bearer

by Samantha Whidden

He made his debut as Tonga’s shirtless flag bearer at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Pita Taufatofua returned for his flag bearer duties. This time, with more body oil. 

Twitter followers took to the social media platform to swoon over the athlete’s obvious good physique during the 2020 Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday (July 23rd). Pita has appeared in 2016, 2018, and 2020 Olympics. He is a Tongan Taekwondo Practitioner and Cross Country Skier. 

Following his appearance at the Tokyo Olympics ceremony, Taufatofua congratulated Tonga’s other flag bearer, Malia Paseka. “She did an amazing job leading the way for more participation of females and youth in sports in Tonga,” Pita writes. “So proud to walk alongside our first-ever female taekwondo Olympian!”

Pita Taufatofua Discusses Life Before His First Olympics

In a 2018 interview with Cosmopolitan, Pita Taufatofua discusses what inspired him to want to be in the Olympics. “When I was 12, Paea Wolfgramm won the [silver] media at the Olympics in Westling. He lined the streets and he came past and wave. I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be an Olympian one day.’ And now, here I am!”

Pita explains that getting to the Olympics was a 20-year struggle for him. “I’ve got an amazing family, but [we had a] tough time financially growing up.” He had eight family members living in a one-bedroom house.  He also is a “half-cast,” which is half-westerner and half-Tongan. “[As a kid], I had to fight for myself or I would have been bullied continually”

Taufatofua also thinks it’s funny that his shirtless torso going viral in previous Olympics. “The goal isn’t to be this symbol of masculinity, because that’s so surface level,” he explains. The athlete says that if the appearance allows him to get a message across to others, then he wants to get the message across. “It doesn’t bother me at all, there’s real problems in the world.”

Pita recalls one guy who was a world champion in cross country skiing who said something he should stick to not wearing a shirt. “But I guess karma got him because he didn’t make the Olympics.” He then states that he’s using his newfound family to get the message across that it really doesn’t matter to him whether he succeeds or fails. “I just keep on trying and that’s the message I put across to people. Just keep trying.”

In regards to competing in the 2020 Olympics, Taufatofua adds that if he does compete, he would try a different sport or something more lined with something he loves, water. “No man has ever done three different sports [at the Olympics].”

When he’s not focused on taekwondo and skiing, Pita services as a UNICEF ambassador and works with homeless charities. He also had an engineering degree and is currently working on his master’s degree.