As in 2016 in Rio and in 2018 in Pyeongchang, Pita Taufatofua led the Tonga delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. With, again, his traditional costume and his oiled chest.
The Olympic Games have their mascot, but that of the opening ceremony is undoubtedly him: Tongan Pita Taufatofua. The 37-year-old athlete, who qualified for the Rio Games in 2016 in taekwondo, caused a sensation in Brazil by parading bare-chested and heavily oiled. Two years later, at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, Taufatofua did it again after qualifying quite improbably … in cross-country skiing. But the story was not going to end there.
Once again qualified in taekwondo for Tokyo 2020, again Tonga flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua again dropped the t-shirt (but not the mask) this Friday in Japan, to put on his traditional costume and make a remarkable appearance in the Olympic stadium – with his compatriot Malia Paseka – at the head of his small delegation.
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Lead by example
Qualified for Tokyo before the Covid pandemic, Taufatofua then confined himself to Australia, and he had recounted his training galleys to USA Today a few weeks ago. He also explained that he was aiming for Olympic qualification in a third different sport, namely sprinting kayaking. Unfortunately, he had broken a rib a few days before the qualifying tournament in Oceania, and was unable to participate in a repechage event in Russia due to travel restrictions.
More than a medal, which he probably never will have, it is a bit of inspiration and hope that the boy apparently wants to offer his country. “If I participate in three Olympics, maybe the children who watch will say ‘I want to try too’, he confided. And they will surpass themselves. And by surpassing themselves, they will make the person next to them progress. them, and so on. “