He’s baaaack! Pita Taufatofua (a.k.a. the Shirtless Tongan) returned to the Olympics as his country’s flag-bearer for Friday’s opening ceremonies. It marked his third ceremony, having first appeared at the 2016 Rio Games, and again at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) July 23, 2021
The mood at the event was a pretty big departure from games past. Instead of having spectators inside the stadium cheering the athletes on, protesters assembled outside the arena, upset that Japan allowed the games to proceed at all amid a worsening pandemic.
But other than that pretty glaring difference, the ceremony itself was familiar. Countries were allowed two flag bearers (again, Covid), and the parade of nations proceeded for the television cameras.
And everyone was thrilled to see Taufatofua, who will compete in taekwondo:
"The hot, shirtless Tongan flagbearer from Rio is BACK!"
Pita Taufatofua became an overnight sensation five years ago when he marched shirtless and in a traditional Tongan outfit at the opening ceremonies in 2016 and 2018. He is back for #Tokyo2020. https://t.co/lSzzr8Lsf4 pic.twitter.com/bT2HlMoKhO
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 23, 2021
— Mr Adam R (@MrAdamR) July 23, 2021
— Goran (@GoranVR) July 23, 2021
— Jamie Blynn (@jamieblynn) July 23, 2021
— GontseLeroleFan (@FanGontse) July 23, 2021
— Jordan Fennell (@jordaaaye) July 23, 2021
I do ? watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.
Pita Taufatofua of Tonga has appeared! ??? pic.twitter.com/PnT6fXzA6Q
— I?CAVALIERS (@NJHWAY2) July 23, 2021
— Gabe (@gabethefaun) July 23, 2021
— Kaitlin Urka (@kaitlinurka) July 23, 2021
— Stacy Lambe (@sllambe) July 23, 2021