The Tokyo Olympics are here, which means Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless Tongan flag bearer is back! See all the pics from the Opening Ceremony.
Pita Taufatofua is back! The infamous flag bearer of Tonga has qualified for his third Olympics, and made his debut at the Opening Ceremony of the 2021 Tokyo Games. Of course, he did so while shirtless and covered in a lot of oil, wearing nothing but a traditional sarong, necklace, and white protective face mask. Pita’s well-oiled physique was first put on display during the Rio Olympics in 2016, and he made another shirtless appearance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. Unlike most athletes, he is a dual-sport competitor, attending the summer games for taekwondo, and the winter games for cross-country skiing.
Social media users were quick to react to Pita’s appearance at the 2021 Games. “The Flag Bearer from Tonga still has not bought a shirt,” one person noted, while another wrote alongside a pic of Pita, “BREAKING TONGA HAS WON THE OLYMPICS. We can all go home now.” Not only is Pita a dual-sport athlete, but he has an engineering degree and is working on his master’s degree.
Meanwhile, Team USA arrived at the opening ceremony on Friday July 23, however Simone Biles, 24, and the rest of the U.S. gymnastics team were not present. The team felt it was more important to be “focused on preparation” rather than walk in the ceremony, a U.S.A. Gymnastics spokesperson told The New York Times. Simone did a brief Q&A with fans on her Instagram story and said that a bunch of reasons played into why the Team USA gymnasts were forgoing the ceremony.
She answered one person who asked if the team attended by saying, “We did our own little walk outside where we are staying.” Another fan asked why the team didn’t go, and she cited COVID-19, noting that a handful of Olympic athletes tested positive for coronavirus since arriving in Tokyo. “It was also a decision that we all made together, we know it isn’t ideal for the Olympic experience but nothing is ideal during a pandemic,” coach Cecile Landi wrote on Twitter. “We feel like we can control the athletes and our safety better in a hotel setting!”