Pita Taufatofua, The Oiled-Up Flag Bearer from Tonga, Returns

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Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless, oiled-up flag bearer from Tonga, has made his triumphant return during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taufatofua, who first captured the world’s attention at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be competing in the Taekwondo tournament. He also appeared shirtless and oily as the flag bearer for Tonga during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, despite the literally freezing temperatures.

His presence is proof that in a world so divided, at least we all can agree on this: Some heroes don’t wear capes; sometimes, they wear so much baby oil it would make an ’80s Hulk Hogan blush.

As expected, Taufatofua’s appearance was met with glorious fanfare on Twitter. Here are some of the best reactions.

BREAKING TONGA HAS WON THE OLYMPICS. We can all go home now. #Olympics pic.twitter.com/6yngzDkDrl — 🥕BeardedDonkey🥕 (@BeardeddonkeyTv) July 23, 2021

Me when the shirtless Tonga flagbearer shows up pic.twitter.com/FifLVNyFrs — Logan (@Logan_McQ) July 23, 2021

Looking at Tonga 🇹🇴 RESPECTFULLY #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/E6l2PY47M6 — NorMåneskin Vincitori di Europa 🇮🇹 (@NonnyLand) July 23, 2021

Finally the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Tonga man #OpeningCeremony pic.twitter.com/ApIkaawZmc — Sibsie (@Sibsie) July 23, 2021

This is a Tonga Olympics appreciation tweet for no reason in particular

📷: Getty Images pic.twitter.com/PgGmjDEaCw — BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) July 23, 2021

All of the Events of the 2021 Summer Games

Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who’s well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.

Team Tonga enters XXXII Olympiad, with world’s favourite flagbearer

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Flag bearers Malia Paseka and Pita Taufatofua lead the Olympic team from Tonga into the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Tokyo on Friday, July 23, 2021. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

By Matangi Tonga reporters

At the opening of the XXXII Olympiad - Tokyo 2020 tonight, flag bearers Pita Taufatofua and Malia Paseka led Tonga’s team into the Olympic Stadium wearing traditional costumes.

The well-oiled Pita caught the attention of Olympic commentators once again.

“Pita the Tongan is back for a third opening ceremony,” wrote the New York Times running commentary, “expect him to be trending online again any minute.”

Within minutes of entering the stadium the Tongan flagbearers Pita and Malia became the face of the BBC online sports page.

Pita ’s arrival was heralded by major news networks around the world. CNN International said: “Pita Taufatofua…once again walked out and turned up the heat at the Games.”

The Japan Times welcomed back Pita “a social media sensation”.

E! News said “Good Morning Team Tonga”.

USA Today found inspiration, “Remember that shirtless, oiled up Tongan Olympian? He’s back, and ready to inspire in 2021.”

Sporting News asked: “Who is the Tonga flag guy? Shirtless flag bearer is back for 2021 Tokyo Olympics, sets internet ablaze.”

The Independent shouted: “The oily guy is back: internet reacts to Tonga flag bearer at Tokyo 2020”.

Team Tonga

Meanwhile in Tonga the opening ceremony was broadcast live on Digitv.

Team Tonga includes two taekwondo players, two swimmers, a weightlifter and one athlete. The Head of Delegation/Chef de Mission Dr. ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau with eight officials.

Of the six only two are based and trained in Tonga (Malia Paseka and Ronald Fotofili), while the other four trained wholly or partially overseas.

The Olympic Games runs from July 23 to August 8. Below is a schedule of events for Tonga’s athletes, compiled by Matangi Tonga from the Olympic listings.

Who Wore It Better? Shirtless Flag Bearers From Tonga, Vanuatu Sport Identical Oiled-up Looks

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Pita Taufatofua, known simply as the “Shirtless Tongan,” set the internet ablaze in 2016, when he entered Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro proudly carrying his country’s flag at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Games.

The 37-year-old is back for the Tokyo Olympics and led Tonga during the Parade of Nations on Friday for the opening ceremony.

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He soon had some unexpected competition, however, with the flag bearer from Vanuatu, rower Rillio Rii, who walked out sporting a similar shirtless, oiled-up muscle look.

Rii is one of three Olympians from the small South Pacific country. He’s competing in the Men’s Single Sculls.

“Tonga goes viral at #Olympics. Vanuatu: ‘hold my flag…,’” one person tweeted.


Tonga and Vanuatu flag bearers wining the entire Internet hearts pic.twitter.com/GFugBgkHZV — Am (@Axtion_Am) July 23, 2021

Taufatofua also went shirtless for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. At the time, he said he was taken aback by interest in him appearing shirtless.

“I had no idea how much attention that would get,” he told People in 2018. “In Tonga where you have a lot of traditional dances, the oil and the outfit I was wearing was quite normal. But in Rio it turned out to be a pretty big deal.”

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga’s famous shirtless Olympic flag bearer, shares three things you should know about his home country.

Hours after the opening ceremony in Tokyo, Taufatofua sent out a tweet of thanks to his supporters.