‘Shirtless Tongan’ makes Olympic history

Japan 2020

Tonga’s famous flagbearer, Pita Taufatofua Credit: Getty

While he may be best known for his appearances during Olympic opening ceremonies, Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua now has another claim to fame.

By competing today in the men’s +80kg/+176 lbs tournament in Taekwondo, the Tongan flagbearer becomes the first person to compete in three straight Olympic Games (summer and winter) since the introduction of the Winter Olympics in 1924.

Taufatofua also competed in taekwondo in the 2016 Rio Games, losing to Iran’s Sajjad Mardani in the first round. In 2018 at Pyeongchang, he became Tonga’s first-ever Winter Olympics athlete when he participated in cross-country skiing. For his 2020 taekwondo tournament draw, he meets Russian world champion Vladislav Larin in the first round. 

With appearances in three different Olympic Games in a five-year span, Taufatofua enters the hall of Olympic record-setters – no shirt required.

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