Have mercy! While the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Rio Olympics touched viewers with glimpses into the culture of Brazil with its music and dance, the hashtag #Tonga ruled the day as the #TeamTonga flag-bearer stole the show, bare-chested and seriously oiled up to represent his country.
Pita Nikolas Taufatofua, competing in Taekwondo, glistened as he held the flag of Tonga, and marched with pride, complete with amazing musculature. Even Meredith Viera and Hoda Kotb paused to comment that thanks to Pita Nikolas Taufatofua’s glistening physique, they would now be following Tonga throughout the 2016 Rio Olympics.
E! Online commented “Well hello Tonga!” as Pita Nikolas Taufatofua proudly waved the flag of Tonga. Twitter lit up to tweet about the man from Tonga with the shiny six pack and mesmerizing biceps as he made his entrance into Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Pita Taufatofua is the first ever taekwondo athlete to represent Tonga in the Olympics following two failed attempts to reach the games. When he’s not oiled to perfection fighting or working out, Pita Taufatofua is a youth counselor and a model.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) August 6, 2016
USA Today says that Tonga, a small island country, is often overlooked in the Olympics, but that might change after all of the attention that Pita Taufatofua got in the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The parade of nations was pleasant, but nothing really stuck out until Pita Taufatofua, dressed only in his ta’ovala (Tongan mat), slung low around his waist, strutted into the stadium.
Rio, a city that is not shy about celebrating the human form (it is the home of the procedure, the Brazilian butt lift, which glorifies a round bum) roared when Taufatofua appeared bare-chested. It’s safe to say that Taufatofua’s Generosity.com page, which raises money for Taufatofua’s training expenses, will get a bit more attention than before. Just overnight, Taufatofua’s donations are up nearly 30 percent. USA Today mentions that though he doesn’t live in Tonga, Taufatofua competes for the country to honor his father.
“According to his official biography, he was born in Australia but chose to compete for Tonga because of his father’s heritage. He lives and trains in Auckland, New Zealand.”
— EntertainmentTonight (@etnow) August 6, 2016
The Tongan athlete has his training expenses documented on his Generosity.com page, and he is hoping to get some help to keep competing. The athlete, who is simply known by the name Pita, is an underdog, according to his promotional materials, but he is committed to his Olympic dream.
“Being self funded but very determined, Pita sacrificed his whole adult life working in homeless shelters with the underprivileged to show and teach people the power of self belief. Now he faces a new challenge, the high costs of an Olympic bid!”
Pita is mostly hoping to finally raise the $30k that is needed to get himself a full time couch to train more efficiently.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 6, 2016
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that before the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, Pita Nikolas Taufatofua, the flag-bearer representing Tonga posted a teaser on his Facebook page.
Olympic opening Ceremony tonight! Pumped! We have a little surprise.. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it,” he wrote, adding a winky-face emoji.
It’s safe to say that nobody missed the greased up guy from Tonga. It seems that Pita is now an an overnight sensation, adding over 1000 new followers to his Instagram page, where he is fond of the shirtless selfie.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 6, 2016
But it hasn’t always been easy for Pita, who has broken six bones and spent three months in a wheelchair as a result of his sport, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There’s nowhere else in life I can experience the same challenge that taekwondo gives me. Getting onto the mats; getting into the ring to fight somebody you don’t hate and whose sole purpose is to kick you in the head and your purpose is to kick them in the head.”
Fans can watch Pita represent Tonga this week in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Did you notice Pita in the opening ceremonies in Rio?
[Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images]