The world may be competing against one another for the 2018 Olympic Games, but everyone is united in one common cause: Pita Taufatofua must be protected at all costs.
Taufatofua, better known as the “shirtless flag-bearer from Tonga,” went viral in 2016 when he carried his country’s flag wearing little more than a traditional Tongan mat round his waist and generously-applied body oil. Now he has returned for the 2018 Winter Olympics, embracing the new season with a brand-new sport — and exactly the same wardrobe.
Despite the 32˚F cold at the Opening Ceremonies in Pyeongchang, Shirtless Flag-Bearer stayed meticulously on-brand last night, sporting an ensemble that could not have been comfortable — but was definitely crowd-pleasing.
While Twitter is abuzz at the resurgence of the glistening shirtless icon, Taufatofua had to put forth some effort to qualify this year as his country’s first cross-country skier. He trained for the event on roller skis, and had never even seen snow until a few months ago. He also crowdfunded his journey and qualified on the last day of the Olympic trials, Teen Vogue reported.
“I’ve come in as the last seed so I think I’m the last ranked person there — so if I get a gold medal, I’ll be happy; If I come last, I’ll be happy,” he told CNN. “I made it to the Olympics and I got Tonga to the Olympics.”
He has… a few fans.
Live every day like you’re the Tonga flag bearer who just decided to learn how to cross country ski so he could come back to the #olympics and parade in shirtless
— Kristen Soltis Anderson (@KSoltisAnderson) February 10, 2018
— Clare Balding (@clarebalding) February 9, 2018
TGIF! (Tonga guy is FINE) https://t.co/iDK8eEbH6Z
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) February 10, 2018
tonga can get it. if he can stop sliding off, he can get it.
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) February 10, 2018
Suddenly very interested in Tonga
— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) February 10, 2018
We are all rooting for Tonga this year.