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Tonga’s Shirtless Olympian Flag-Bearer Makes His Return, and the Internet Is Swooning

He's got competition, too.

Malia Paseka and Pita Taufatofua of Team Tonga at the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony.

The Olympics Opening Ceremony is always an exciting event. It’s an athlete’s introduction to the Olympic Games ,and it honestly seems like something that never gets old, especially when surrounded by so much talent from around the world. One such talent is Pita Taufatofua from Tonga. This Olympian has become the focus of many fans for his taekwondo, skiing, and canoeing skills. He’s also a UNICEF ambassador and an engineer with a winning smile to make you swoon.

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Oh yeah, people also love him because he bears the Tongan flag while shirtless—and oiled up, too. Can’t forget that. This love has transformed into viewers tuning in just to catch a glimpse at this Tongan god each Olympics. It’s also led  people like me, who didn’t know much about Tonga or its people, to explore a culture different from ours. So, thank you, Pita Taufatofua, for helping me educate myself through your hard and shirtless work.

In sending Pita Taufatofua love, we must remember that there was someone else out there helping him. Malia Paseka, an Olympian in her own right, shared the weight of the Tongan flag. She is leading the charge when it comes to more women in sports in Tonga, and she’s Tonga’s first female taekwondo Olympian. Also, she looks just as fierce as Pita, from her headpiece to her dress. And I can’t wait for Malia and Pita to kill it at this year’s Olympics.

Until then, here are some of our favorite tweets about Pita Taufatofua and his return:

(image: Hannah McKay – Pool/Getty)

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Lyra Hale
Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.

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