National treasure

PHOTOS: Tongan flag bearer returns to Olympics, more oiled-up than ever

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.

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: