Shirtless Tonga Olympian Wins Opening Ceremony Again

Saturday, 10 Feb, 2018

He stole the show in Rio, but Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua has gone one better in South Korea - coming out oiled up and shirtless in freezing temperatures.

Taekwondo is not a winter sport; a fact that has fans a bit confused after seeing Tonga's Pita Taufatofua enter the stadium for the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics on Friday.

Taufatofua competed in taekwondo in Rio, and is back competing in cross-country skiing, despite representing a tropical south Pacific island nation where it doesn't snow.

Taufatofua has again caused a buzz, this time by patriotically taking his shirt off and braving the frigid temperatures at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

While some outlets speculated on how it was deemed too cold to do the Winter Olympics, there were also some competitors who were planning to skip the intro celebrations all together due to the extreme cold weather. The Rio 2016 Summer Games were no exception. Cold enough that a number of news outlets have run stories with headlines wondering if it is actually too cold to run a Winter Olympics. He became popular during the opening ceremony of the Rio Games when he carried his countries flag into Maracanã Stadium shirtless.

"I won't freeze. I am from Tonga".

A wry smile creeps across Taufatofua's face at the mention of roller skiing - "quite possibly the worst thing ever invented", he says. "But this is a distance sport where you have to hold this certain level of pain for up to an hour, then cross the finish line and you just die".

As is the case at every Olympic Opening Ceremony, the Olympic Cauldron was the climax of the event.

"Changed my mind, I'm supporting Tonga", one person commented after seeing Tonga's entrance.

"I want to still be alive for my race", Taufatofua said. According to NBC Sports, he made the cut during the final qualifying weekend last month in Iceland.